Author Topic: Vaughan Williams's Veranda  (Read 369698 times)

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Offline Irons

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4140 on: June 10, 2019, 11:09:11 PM »
On a more serious note, Baron raises a valid point. I think most of us flit from one composer to another. I know I am guilty of "flavour of the month". Some, and it is only a few are always there in the background, they are like a warm blanket, familiar. For me it is RVW, Elgar and Sibelius who I never tire of. There is also the point that I don't pipe up on other composers as quite frankly I am aware I have nothing to say of interest.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4141 on: June 11, 2019, 12:54:48 AM »
On a more serious note, Baron raises a valid point. I think most of us flit from one composer to another. I know I am guilty of "flavour of the month". Some, and it is only a few are always there in the background, they are like a warm blanket, familiar. For me it is RVW, Elgar and Sibelius who I never tire of. There is also the point that I don't pipe up on other composers as quite frankly I am aware I have nothing to say of interest.

Oh, that has never stopped me from expressing my views. 8)

I think that I'm quite loyal to my favourite composers, VW, Miaskovsky, Bax, Copland, Honegger, Sibelius, Tubin, Braga Santos, Lilburn, Bruckner. Most of them I've appreciated since my late teenage years, although I wouldn't have been aware of Tubin and Braga Santos in those days. However, it's always great to discover new composers whose music appeals.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Irons

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4142 on: June 11, 2019, 06:23:40 AM »
Oh, that has never stopped me from expressing my views. 8)

I think that I'm quite loyal to my favourite composers, VW, Miaskovsky, Bax, Copland, Honegger, Sibelius, Tubin, Braga Santos, Lilburn, Bruckner. Most of them I've appreciated since my late teenage years, although I wouldn't have been aware of Tubin and Braga Santos in those days. However, it's always great to discover new composers whose music appeals.

But your views are always worth reading!

Two names in your list I have not heard of. Miaskovsky I like a lot and the same goes for Copland and Honegger. For Tubin I need to try harder. This is confession time, but to be honest I struggle with Bax. Sometimes I think I am there and then it slips away - again. Bruckner is a closed book.

I agree it is brilliant to find new composers and music and it is a never ending quest.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4143 on: June 11, 2019, 06:37:46 AM »
But your views are always worth reading!

Two names in your list I have not heard of. Miaskovsky I like a lot and the same goes for Copland and Honegger. For Tubin I need to try harder. This is confession time, but to be honest I struggle with Bax. Sometimes I think I am there and then it slips away - again. Bruckner is a closed book.

I agree it is brilliant to find new composers and music and it is a never ending quest.

Thank you!

I've been listening to different recordings of Bax's 7th today, with much pleasure. With Tubin I'd try symphonies 2 and 4.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4144 on: June 11, 2019, 06:54:33 AM »
On a more serious note, Baron raises a valid point. I think most of us flit from one composer to another. I know I am guilty of "flavour of the month". Some, and it is only a few are always there in the background, they are like a warm blanket, familiar. For me it is RVW, Elgar and Sibelius who I never tire of. There is also the point that I don't pipe up on other composers as quite frankly I am aware I have nothing to say of interest.

I didn't mean any implicit criticism, by the way, and I do enjoy Vaughan Williams' symphonies, well except for #1 and #7. I guess I don't have time to immerse myself in any one composer's music to the point of having something to say every day. :)

Online kyjo

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4145 on: June 11, 2019, 06:57:28 PM »
Vaughan Williams gets a lot of traction and positive press around here. A friend of mine always referred to Yawn Williams. I have heretofore been indifferent to the music of Vaughan Williams. I am open to persuasion and prepared to give the music another chance so let me see if I can dispel both of these sentiments with a survey of his music which is in my admittedly very modest collection:

Symphonies 1-9 Boult [CD]
Symphonies 1-9 Previn [LP]
A Sea Symphony Boult [LP + CD]
A Sea Symphony Previn [LP + CD]
A Sea Symphony Haitink [CD]
A Sea Symphony Hickox [CD]
A London Symphony Barbirolli [LP]
Sinfonia Antartica Boult [LP X 2 - Previn & Boult]
Symphony No. 8 Vaughan Williams [CD]
Symphony No. 8 Barbirolli [10" vinyl]

Personally, I think A London Symphony is one of VW's most accessible works (along with the 5th Symphony), though I know others may disagree.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Online kyjo

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4146 on: June 11, 2019, 07:21:13 PM »
Recently, I've happily discovered two of VW's works involving the viola - the Suite for Viola and Orchestra and Flos campi. The former represents the composer at his most lovable, humane, and melodic. It is a truly "feel good" work with some gorgeous melodies. The latter (with its evocative wordless chorus) is a more elusive work with its "crunchy", sometimes bitonal harmonies, but it really "opens up" in the final section, which is glowingly beautiful.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4147 on: June 11, 2019, 09:35:41 PM »
I also rate A London Symphony very highly, especially in its 1920 or 1913 version. It was the composer's own favourite of at least his first eight symphonies. Yesterday I listened to the Andrew Manze recordings of Sinfonia Antartica and No.9. The narration in Sinfonia Antartica didn't bother me, in fact I quite like it and I thought that Timothy West was fine, although at the start I momentarily thought that the late Sir John Gielgud had returned to us. As performances the phrase good but 'nothing special' comes to mind. Also Manze seems to play around with the tempos at times which I don't like. I have never felt bored in Sinfonia Antartica before and thought the performance dragged. I then compared the timings with Boult's Decca recording (my favourite version) and was surprised to discover that the Manze version is shorter. It just sounded longer. Having said this I thought that the organ entry in the 'Landscape' movement was the most impressive I have heard. I was listening on a portable CD player so must listen again on the main Hi-Fi before making a final judgment. No.9 was better I thought but still not nearly as gripping as performances by Boult (both version), Slatkin, Thomson or the very fine Stokowski recording on Cala.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Irons

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4148 on: June 11, 2019, 11:22:07 PM »
Thank you!

I've been listening to different recordings of Bax's 7th today, with much pleasure. With Tubin I'd try symphonies 2 and 4.

Checking, I have recordings of Tubin's 2 and 7 on my shelves. The 2nd is a 1987 Melodiya recording with The Estonian State SO conducted by Peeter Lilje. Very much doubt this version would be a contender for a "Building a Library" Tubin 2, but I will give it a spin after your heads up.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline Irons

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4149 on: June 11, 2019, 11:30:11 PM »
Personally, I think A London Symphony is one of VW's most accessible works (along with the 5th Symphony), though I know others may disagree.

I wouldn't. I listened to Barbirolli with his Hallé last night. Sir John is perfection in the atmospheric opening.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4150 on: June 11, 2019, 11:47:25 PM »
I also agree that the London and the 5th (and probably then the 6th) are the best way in to VW's symphonies.  But before those, maybe don't forget Tallis, Lark and the Tuba Concerto.

As performances the phrase good but 'nothing special' comes to mind.

I think in the 7th it's quite difficult to find points of difference that aren't simply down to the production or recording.  The impact of the organ for example is purely a production decision.  The music itself is just wodges of textured sound and not very dynamic within itself, I don't imagine it's very taxing to conduct or perform - and any slight differences in tempo for example don't seem to mean much as they are likely to be consistent for the entire movement.  On that basis I like the Manze because the recording - although it's a strange balance to my ears, somewhat recessed, almost hollow - is very revealing of some inner details that simply go unheard in most other versions I've listened to.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4151 on: June 12, 2019, 08:45:48 AM »
I also agree that the London and the 5th (and probably then the 6th) are the best way in to VW's symphonies.  But before those, maybe don't forget Tallis, Lark and the Tuba Concerto.

I think in the 7th it's quite difficult to find points of difference that aren't simply down to the production or recording.  The impact of the organ for example is purely a production decision.  The music itself is just wodges of textured sound and not very dynamic within itself, I don't imagine it's very taxing to conduct or perform - and any slight differences in tempo for example don't seem to mean much as they are likely to be consistent for the entire movement.  On that basis I like the Manze because the recording - although it's a strange balance to my ears, somewhat recessed, almost hollow - is very revealing of some inner details that simply go unheard in most other versions I've listened to.
Thanks. I need to listen to it on better equipment.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4152 on: June 13, 2019, 12:17:20 AM »
I formed that opinion before reading this review on Presto Classical
https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/articles/2664--recording-of-the-week-the-final-instalment-of-andrew-manzes-vaughan-williams-cycle-with-the
where the reviewer David Smith identifies some of the same things but attributes points of balance to decisions made by the conductor rather than by the producer or sound engineer.
Quote
... at several points in the work the bass register of the piano (which I hadn’t previously realised was even called for in this work!) cuts through the texture. ... Manze is consistently seeking to enliven the sonic texture by highlighting the spikier elements of the scoring.
That piano is what struck me straight away.  I don't really agree with his 2nd point above, but I do generally agree with (without altogether liking it):
Quote
... it tips the balance towards a warmer, more human sound-world, where previous interpretations have tended to play up the ethereal, otherworldy aspect of the polar setting.

Offline Christo

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4153 on: June 15, 2019, 01:55:57 AM »


After listening a couple of times to Manze's Ninth (1957), I dare conclude that it's by now my first choice, In a comparison of 16 recordings of this symphony that I'm aware of, it's clear that Manze opts for - by far - the slowest tempi, e.g. the finale alone lasting no less than 15 minutes. Of the other recordings, only Previn and Rozhdestvensky are sometimes taking a smilar long breath, but this recording surpasses them all.

I find the result very convincing, but also confusing: why didn't Manze make comparable choices with the Sixth (1947), its closest ally? Why are all of his other recordings - of RVW's symphonies I mean - rather middle of the road? Whence this sudden turn? I hope to read an explanation later, but in the meantime we better enjoy this most epic of all of Vaughan Williams' symphonies.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4154 on: June 15, 2019, 03:17:30 AM »


Interesting, will listen on my Hi-Fi system later.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline aligreto

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4155 on: June 15, 2019, 07:07:56 AM »
A Sea Symphony:

In relation to listening and comprehension, A Sea Symphony had a troubled genesis for me. There was very little in this work that was of any interest to me when I first heard it. I cannot exactly remember my first version [Boult, I believe] but I do remember having to force myself to finish listening to the entire work. This style was simply not to my taste at the time. However, after repeated listening and critical evaluation and comparison that situation did change over time and has revealed an appreciation that I did not believe was possible after my first hearing. My journey with this particular work has been a long but progressively positive one.


Boult:





The opening movement is vibrant and energetic and rolls out in undulating waves. Dark and pensive but not brooding, the second movement is rich in tone and orchestral colour. The vitality, energy and exuberance of the opening movement returns in the third movement. The final movement is elegant and noble with a refined restraint leading to a fine conclusion.

This is a monumental work which is given a contemplative, atmospheric and intense performance and interpretation here which never overflows into melodrama.



Haitink:





The Haitink version is a much more bright and modern one when compared with that of Boult and as a result the orchestra has a much greater presence and more impact than that in the Boult version. However, to be fair, one has to take into consideration the improved recording technology. I also thought that Haitink’s vocalists [especially the soprano] were much more controlled and thereby more rewarding to my ear. This is a powerful and uncompromising first section with committed performances from all concerned. The second section is atmospheric, suitably contemplative and is also a powerful and intense performance. The final section is emotional and has some wonderful brass playing in the opening movement and the two solo vocalists perform admirably throughout as does the chorus. This ultimately transpired to be a powerful and compelling performance and interpretation for me.



Upon repeated listening the differences between the Boult and the Haitink versions turned out to be more subtle than substantial and I fear that initially I did a considerable injustice to both the work itself and to Boult's interpretation. I have now, over time, revised my attitude on both counts. I still prefer the Haitink version but the Boult version was not nearly as inferior as I had originally felt and the fault lay entirely with me.




Hickox:





I find this to be a somewhat “lighter” textured version than others that I have listened to. However, it is not a lightweight performance and there is still plenty of tension and drama in there and it evolves into a terrifically sensitive and powerful performance. I like the two solo vocalists here. The performance of the choir is an essential element and contributor to the success of this presentation. This was a difficult work for me to understand and comprehend for quite some time. This Hickox version played a big part in solving that problem for me with its lighter textures and its resulting cleaner lines which allowed for greater listening space for me and ultimately to greater comprehension on my part.



Previn:





The first movement is an assertive and vigorous presentation. One can feel the wind whipping up into a squall in places. There is great excitement here. The second movement is contemplative and atmospheric with an intensity that gradually builds up very well. I find this interpretation to be somewhat on the dark side. The third movement is another whirlwind of excitement with a very fine performance from the choir in particular. The final movement is initially a hushed, meditative and pensive performance which gradually builds up to a very fine, sensitive and engaging conclusion. 
The choral singing and the performance of the brass section captured my attention throughout. Previn has great control of the music but the performance is never confined or restricted in any way.



The ability to talk comes with knowledge. The ability to listen comes with wisdom.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4156 on: June 15, 2019, 07:26:23 AM »
A Sea Symphony:

In relation to listening and comprehension, A Sea Symphony had a troubled genesis for me. There was very little in this work that was of any interest to me when I first heard it. I cannot exactly remember my first version [Boult, I believe] but I do remember having to force myself to finish listening to the entire work. This style was simply not to my taste at the time. However, after repeated listening and critical evaluation and comparison that situation did change over time and has revealed an appreciation that I did not believe was possible after my first hearing. My journey with this particular work has been a long but progressively positive one.


Boult:





The opening movement is vibrant and energetic and rolls out in undulating waves. Dark and pensive but not brooding, the second movement is rich in tone and orchestral colour. The vitality, energy and exuberance of the opening movement returns in the third movement. The final movement is elegant and noble with a refined restraint leading to a fine conclusion.

This is a monumental work which is given a contemplative, atmospheric and intense performance and interpretation here which never overflows into melodrama.



Haitink:





The Haitink version is a much more bright and modern one when compared with that of Boult and as a result the orchestra has a much greater presence and more impact than that in the Boult version. However, to be fair, one has to take into consideration the improved recording technology. I also thought that Haitink’s vocalists [especially the soprano] were much more controlled and thereby more rewarding to my ear. This is a powerful and uncompromising first section with committed performances from all concerned. The second section is atmospheric, suitably contemplative and is also a powerful and intense performance. The final section is emotional and has some wonderful brass playing in the opening movement and the two solo vocalists perform admirably throughout as does the chorus. This ultimately transpired to be a powerful and compelling performance and interpretation for me.



Upon repeated listening the differences between the Boult and the Haitink versions turned out to be more subtle than substantial and I fear that initially I did a considerable injustice to both the work itself and to Boult's interpretation. I have now, over time, revised my attitude on both counts. I still prefer the Haitink version but the Boult version was not nearly as inferior as I had originally felt and the fault lay entirely with me.




Hickox:





I find this to be a somewhat “lighter” textured version than others that I have listened to. However, it is not a lightweight performance and there is still plenty of tension and drama in there and it evolves into a terrifically sensitive and powerful performance. I like the two solo vocalists here. The performance of the choir is an essential element and contributor to the success of this presentation. This was a difficult work for me to understand and comprehend for quite some time. This Hickox version played a big part in solving that problem for me with its lighter textures and its resulting cleaner lines which allowed for greater listening space for me and ultimately to greater comprehension on my part.



Previn:





The first movement is an assertive and vigorous presentation. One can feel the wind whipping up into a squall in places. There is great excitement here. The second movement is contemplative and atmospheric with an intensity that gradually builds up very well. I find this interpretation to be somewhat on the dark side. The third movement is another whirlwind of excitement with a very fine performance from the choir in particular. The final movement is initially a hushed, meditative and pensive performance which gradually builds up to a very fine, sensitive and engaging conclusion. 
The choral singing and the performance of the brass section captured my attention throughout. Previn has great control of the music but the performance is never confined or restricted in any way.
Very interesting comparative analysis Fergus! Thank you for that. A Sea Symphony was a VW blind-spot for me for decades. I bought the Boult LP set when I was about 17 and A Sea Symphony was the one LP (or LPs) that I never played, except once out of a sense of duty. It was only when I heard the Haitink performance, in the past decade I think, that the work came alive for me. It is still my favourite performance. It is also possibly my favourite in the Handley, Liverpool PO set.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 09:36:30 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline aligreto

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4157 on: June 15, 2019, 07:45:36 AM »
Very interesting comparative analysis Fergus! Thank you for that. A Sea Symphony was a VW blind-spot for me for decades. I bought the Boult LP set when I was about 17 and A Sea Symphony was the one LP (or LPs) that I never played, except once out of a sense of duty.mit was only when I heard the Haitink performance, in the past decade I think, that the work came alive for me. It is still my favourite performance. It is also possibly my favourite in the Handley, Liverpool PO set.

Thank you Jeffrey. It is always interesting to see how one particular interpretation or vision of a work can resolve "issues" for a listener.
I obviously do not know the Handley version but I will certainly add it to my recommendations list.
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Offline André

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4158 on: June 15, 2019, 11:42:08 AM »
Excellent survey, Aligreto!

I never tire of listening to the Sea Symphony. Walt Whitman’s poetry has incredible expressive power. O vast rondure swimming in space, O my brave soul! O farther, farther sail! give me goosebumps every time. VW had the genius to let the text take wing patiently, never rushing it off the page. If it had been called a choral cantata (Hodie, Sancta Civitas come to mind) it might have had less unjustified criticism leveled against it.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #4159 on: June 15, 2019, 12:42:46 PM »
A Sea Symphony:

In relation to listening and comprehension, A Sea Symphony had a troubled genesis for me............

Haitink:

 

The Haitink version is a much more bright and modern one when compared with that of Boult and as a result the orchestra has a much greater presence and more impact than that in the Boult version. However, to be fair, one has to take into consideration the improved recording technology. I also thought that Haitink’s vocalists [especially the soprano] were much more controlled and thereby more rewarding to my ear. This is a powerful and uncompromising first section with committed performances from all concerned. The second section is atmospheric, suitably contemplative and is also a powerful and intense performance. The final section is emotional and has some wonderful brass playing in the opening movement and the two solo vocalists perform admirably throughout as does the chorus. This ultimately transpired to be a powerful and compelling performance and interpretation for me..........

Previn:

The first movement is an assertive and vigorous presentation. One can feel the wind whipping up into a squall in places. There is great excitement here. The second movement is contemplative and atmospheric with an intensity that gradually builds up very well. I find this interpretation to be somewhat on the dark side. The third movement is another whirlwind of excitement with a very fine performance from the choir in particular. The final movement is initially a hushed, meditative and pensive performance which gradually builds up to a very fine, sensitive and engaging conclusion. 
The choral singing and the performance of the brass section captured my attention throughout. Previn has great control of the music but the performance is never confined or restricted in any way.

Thanks for the comments - above are the two sets that I own currently, i.e. Haitink & Previn - enjoy both but have not made any comparisons - have been re-listening to the Haitink CD box the last few days.  Dave :)