Author Topic: Vaughan Williams's Veranda  (Read 874212 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5560 on: May 25, 2022, 06:54:29 AM »
Great to know, because it is my top recommendation too - especially because of its dramatic and powerful opening. I recall buying it in an Amsterdam music store led by a well-known woman, in classical music circles, who confided me that she didn't like Vaughan Williams at all. I paid full price, which was a large amount of money in those days (before internet stores took over, new CDs would cost about twice as much), and came home with a high RVW fever, for this recording really did it for me.

Enjoy the other stories told here very much as well, many thanks!

Good to "see" you, Johan!
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5561 on: May 25, 2022, 07:30:09 AM »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Symphonic Addict

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5562 on: May 25, 2022, 08:13:13 AM »
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5563 on: May 25, 2022, 09:30:21 PM »
I thought that this was an interesting article/review of the Pristine Audio remastered recording of Boult's original LPO recording of 'A Sea Symphony'. I have the new CD but have not played it yet. I agree with the point that he makes about the superiority of some of the earlier/Decca performances compared with Boult's later EMI recordings of the symphonies (good as they are):
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2022/May/VWilliams-sea-PASC658.htm
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Biffo

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5564 on: May 26, 2022, 01:35:11 AM »
I thought that this was an interesting article/review of the Pristine Audio remastered recording of Boult's original LPO recording of 'A Sea Symphony'. I have the new CD but have not played it yet. I agree with the point that he makes about the superiority of some of the earlier/Decca performances compared with Boult's later EMI recordings of the symphonies (good as they are):
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2022/May/VWilliams-sea-PASC658.htm

Thanks for bringing the review to my attention.

I have to be in a special mood to listen to the Sea Symphony and don't often get to the end.

I appreciate what the reviewer has to say about problems of balance. The BBC broadcast a performance conducted by Martyn Brabbins from the Edinburgh Festival and it was excellent. Unfortunately, his recording, with different forces, issued a few months later suffers from the sort of balance problems mentioned in the review. If I set the soloists to a realistic (?) balance the chorus is often too loud and, worse, at times sections of the choir seem to jump out of the sound picture and are deafening.

The most recent version I tried was from the Bryden Thomson cycle and I found that too wearing and didn't make it to the end of the first movement. In the past Spano/Atlanta and Elder/Halle have been my preferred versions but I haven't listened to either for a while.

I am tempted by the Pristine/ Boult recording but not sure.

Perhaps it just me, my equipment or my ears.

Edit: Vol 2 (Symphonies 2 & 3) is now available from Pristine
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 01:42:17 AM by Biffo »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5565 on: May 26, 2022, 02:06:52 AM »
Thanks for bringing the review to my attention.

I have to be in a special mood to listen to the Sea Symphony and don't often get to the end.

I appreciate what the reviewer has to say about problems of balance. The BBC broadcast a performance conducted by Martyn Brabbins from the Edinburgh Festival and it was excellent. Unfortunately, his recording, with different forces, issued a few months later suffers from the sort of balance problems mentioned in the review. If I set the soloists to a realistic (?) balance the chorus is often too loud and, worse, at times sections of the choir seem to jump out of the sound picture and are deafening.

The most recent version I tried was from the Bryden Thomson cycle and I found that too wearing and didn't make it to the end of the first movement. In the past Spano/Atlanta and Elder/Halle have been my preferred versions but I haven't listened to either for a while.

I am tempted by the Pristine/ Boult recording but not sure.

Perhaps it just me, my equipment or my ears.

Edit: Vol 2 (Symphonies 2 & 3) is now available from Pristine
My pleasure

IMO the best music in A Sea Symphony is in the finale, so I try to hang on until the end! It was Haitink's recording which brought this work alive to me (it was the same with his recording of Shostakovich's 13th Symphony 'Babi Yar'). I was aware that Pristine have now released symphonies 2 and 3. The author of the article that I posted identified symphonies 2,4 and 6 as being better performed in the earlier Decca recordings, with the composer in the recording sessions (I was interested to hear that his hearing aid emitted a high-pitched whistle which caused some problems in the recording session).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline relm1

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5566 on: May 26, 2022, 04:08:50 AM »
My pleasure

IMO the best music in A Sea Symphony is in the finale, so I try to hang on until the end! It was Haitink's recording which brought this work alive to me (it was the same with his recording of Shostakovich's 13th Symphony 'Babi Yar'). I was aware that Pristine have now released symphonies 2 and 3. The author of the article that I posted identified symphonies 2,4 and 6 as being better performed in the earlier Decca recordings, with the composer in the recording sessions (I was interested to hear that his hearing aid emitted a high-pitched whistle which caused some problems in the recording session).

Agreed, I would just add, it's the journey to the ending and especially the Haitink where this became a revelation as the work transcends the sea, becoming more metaphorical.  It's a gorgeous work and Haitink is the one by which all others are compared to.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5567 on: May 26, 2022, 11:18:17 AM »
Agreed, I would just add, it's the journey to the ending and especially the Haitink where this became a revelation as the work transcends the sea, becoming more metaphorical.  It's a gorgeous work and Haitink is the one by which all others are compared to.
Beautifully expressed Karim!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5568 on: May 26, 2022, 11:31:08 AM »
This arrived today. I know that some members don't like the Hickox recordings. However the 1913 version of 'A London Symphony' (the only recording allowed) is one of the great VW releases. I also rather enjoyed symphonies 3,4 and 5. Symphonies 7 and 9 were recorded by Andrew Davis and I regard them as good rather than great performances (which is my general opinion of Andrew Davis - although his recording of Elgar's 3rd Symphony is my favourite). However I wanted the Hickox/Davis set as one CDs includes Vaughan Williams's broadcast talks about Stanford and Parry and interviews with Barbirolli, Boult and Ursula VW. Also the box is inexpensive (c.£27.00). I'm asking my wife to give it to me for my birthday ('MORE CDS!!!!! DO YOU REALLY NEED THEM ????) ::)
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 11:37:09 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5569 on: May 26, 2022, 12:02:00 PM »
This arrived today. I know that some members don't like the Hickox recordings. However the 1913 version of 'A London Symphony' (the only recording allowed) is one of the great VW releases. I also rather enjoyed symphonies 3,4 and 5. Symphonies 7 and 9 were recorded by Andrew Davis and I regard them as good rather than great performances (which is my general opinion of Andrew Davis - although his recording of Elgar's 3rd Symphony is my favourite). However I wanted the Hickox/Davis set as one CDs includes Vaughan Williams's broadcast talks about Stanford and Parry and interviews with Barbirolli, Boult and Ursula VW. Also the box is inexpensive (c.£27.00). I'm asking my wife to give it to me for my birthday ('MORE CDS!!!!! DO YOU REALLY NEED THEM ????) ::)


I like the Hickox recordings very much, with no problem that some don't 🙂. I love the recommendations and guidance given here by others, but ultimately I am the only guide to my final preferences. Spotify hasn't quite caught up to the completion of this cycle, but I will be grateful when it does.

And of course you really need them.
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people ... then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness"

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5570 on: May 26, 2022, 01:32:52 PM »
I like the Hickox recordings very much, with no problem that some don't 🙂. I love the recommendations and guidance given here by others, but ultimately I am the only guide to my final preferences. Spotify hasn't quite caught up to the completion of this cycle, but I will be grateful when it does.

And of course you really need them.
Yes, I definitely do Danny  ;)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Online Spotted Horses

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5571 on: May 26, 2022, 06:19:17 PM »
This arrived today. I know that some members don't like the Hickox recordings. However the 1913 version of 'A London Symphony' (the only recording allowed) is one of the great VW releases. I also rather enjoyed symphonies 3,4 and 5. Symphonies 7 and 9 were recorded by Andrew Davis and I regard them as good rather than great performances (which is my general opinion of Andrew Davis - although his recording of Elgar's 3rd Symphony is my favourite). However I wanted the Hickox/Davis set as one CDs includes Vaughan Williams's broadcast talks about Stanford and Parry and interviews with Barbirolli, Boult and Ursula VW. Also the box is inexpensive (c.£27.00). I'm asking my wife to give it to me for my birthday ('MORE CDS!!!!! DO YOU REALLY NEED THEM ????) ::)


I like the Hickox recordings (the ones I've heard). I find it a little disappointing that they employed Andrew Davis the finish the cycle, just because Andrew Davis already has a very good cycle with The BBC Philharmonic on Teldec. I would have preferred they find a new interpreter of Vaughan Williams. I could imagine better cover art.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5572 on: May 26, 2022, 08:29:59 PM »
I like the Hickox recordings (the ones I've heard). I find it a little disappointing that they employed Andrew Davis the finish the cycle, just because Andrew Davis already has a very good cycle with The BBC Philharmonic on Teldec. I would have preferred they find a new interpreter of Vaughan Williams. I could imagine better cover art.
I agree with your point about Andrew Davis Arthur. His recording of Symphony No.6 is very good but the others, it is felt, didn't live up to it. However I much prefer his cycle on Teldec to the incomplete Norrington ones or the Manze and most of the Elder recordings. Yes, the cover image is pretty bad. I'm guessing that it's a painted sketch by Sir Gerald Kelly for the (very fine) earlier of his two portraits of VW (featured in the Thomson boxed set):
« Last Edit: May 26, 2022, 08:33:26 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5573 on: May 27, 2022, 12:47:22 AM »
I have to be in a special mood to listen to the Sea Symphony and don't often get to the end.

My suggestion (as others have hinted) is, next time you are in the mood, go straight to the final movement.  ;)  My favourite recording of the Sea Symphony is that by Slatkin, who is expansive throughout and adopts especially broad tempi (and hushed dynamics) in the final movement.  I remarked recently on another (Holst) thread about a similarity between a brief passage very near the end, and Holst's Neptune.  Both pieces seemingly referencing 'sea', 'outer space', and 'metaphysics' - and ending up sounding rather similar - with the Sea Symphony being slightly the earlier of the two compositions.

Of course Spano that you mentioned is the complete antidote to Slatkin's approach - at first listening, alarmingly quick, I think the fastest on record by some margin.  And with that disarming slight American twang to the choral singing, somehow appropriate when you think about it.  It's another favourite with me.

I don't really understand the general points about difficulty of balance - it is what it is, a late product of the 'English' choral tradition that dates back to Handel and which by the early 20th C had turned into some kind of a monster.  These problems are always going to be baked in, and the only question is whether 'artificial' is an improvement on 'natural'.  I'd love to hear that Oramo Proms performance that was mentioned in the review.  [edit: oh is this it here YouTube I'll have a listen to that later!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 12:59:33 AM by aukhawk »

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5574 on: May 27, 2022, 01:43:02 AM »
[edit: oh is this it here YouTube I'll have a listen to that later!

(nearing the end of the 3rd movt)  Thrilling !!

And Oramo can't keep the broadest of grins off his face  ;D

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5575 on: May 27, 2022, 02:11:30 PM »
My suggestion (as others have hinted) is, next time you are in the mood, go straight to the final movement.  ;)  My favourite recording of the Sea Symphony is that by Slatkin, who is expansive throughout and adopts especially broad tempi (and hushed dynamics) in the final movement.  I remarked recently on another (Holst) thread about a similarity between a brief passage very near the end, and Holst's Neptune.  Both pieces seemingly referencing 'sea', 'outer space', and 'metaphysics' - and ending up sounding rather similar - with the Sea Symphony being slightly the earlier of the two compositions.

Of course Spano that you mentioned is the complete antidote to Slatkin's approach - at first listening, alarmingly quick, I think the fastest on record by some margin.  And with that disarming slight American twang to the choral singing, somehow appropriate when you think about it.  It's another favourite with me.

I don't really understand the general points about difficulty of balance - it is what it is, a late product of the 'English' choral tradition that dates back to Handel and which by the early 20th C had turned into some kind of a monster.  These problems are always going to be baked in, and the only question is whether 'artificial' is an improvement on 'natural'.  I'd love to hear that Oramo Proms performance that was mentioned in the review.  [edit: oh is this it here YouTube I'll have a listen to that later!
Interesting post - I'll have to give the Slatkin recording a listen.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5576 on: May 27, 2022, 10:53:48 PM »
Oramo's timings in that Prom are very similar to Slatkin (disregarding the inter-movement pauses).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5577 on: May 27, 2022, 11:12:47 PM »
Slatkin's Sea Symphony is indeed very good - but actually I like his BBC Music Magazine/BBC SO version even more - just that extra bit of live adrenalin I think....



Talking of live performances.... I finally go round to the recent BBC Music Mag disc of Symphonies 4&6 with John Wilson and the BBC PO.  Perhaps its a measure of how well and compellingly these works are now played that this left me rather "so what".  The BBC PO play very well indeed and Wilson's pacing is perfectly fine but there was not a single moment in either performance where I sat up and felt gripped.  It was almost as if the very polish of the performances took away from the essential rage and violence in both works - the scherzo of No.4 jaunty and not jagged.  Like being in a Rolls Royce when you want to be in sports car with a broken silencer!  Wilson has yet to prove to me that he is a major interpreter.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5578 on: May 28, 2022, 01:40:21 AM »
Slatkin's Sea Symphony is indeed very good - but actually I like his BBC Music Magazine/BBC SO version even more - just that extra bit of live adrenalin I think....



Talking of live performances.... I finally go round to the recent BBC Music Mag disc of Symphonies 4&6 with John Wilson and the BBC PO.  Perhaps its a measure of how well and compellingly these works are now played that this left me rather "so what".  The BBC PO play very well indeed and Wilson's pacing is perfectly fine but there was not a single moment in either performance where I sat up and felt gripped.  It was almost as if the very polish of the performances took away from the essential rage and violence in both works - the scherzo of No.4 jaunty and not jagged.  Like being in a Rolls Royce when you want to be in sports car with a broken silencer!  Wilson has yet to prove to me that he is a major interpreter.
Very much agree with you about those BBC MM VW Wilson performances (although I feel that about a number of his much-hyped recordings). Thanks for reminding us of the Slatkin BBC MM Sea Symphony. I'd forgotten about that one (and I do have it somewhere in my collection  ::)) Apart from the Haitink, which is my very favourite, I also remember liking Handley's recording, although I'm not such a fan of his VW symphonies generally (9 is good).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline André

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Re: Vaughan Williams's Veranda
« Reply #5579 on: May 28, 2022, 10:59:14 AM »
That Slatkin BBC recording of Sea Symphony is even better, more ecstatic as it were than Slatkin’s studio recording. The engineering is a bit watery and swimmy (no pun intended), not quite as sharply focused as it should be, but the performance carries all before it.