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RVW's 9th

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Author Topic: RVW's 9th  (Read 1109 times)
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« on: May 05, 2013, 05:35:25 pm »

I love Vaughan Williams very much and this work in particular.  It is a great symphony and there is much to like about this new recording.  I like the slow, ominous treatment of the opening in this atmospheric interpretation.  I think the fourth movement benefits from a sense of deepening envelopment – a sense of grandeur befitting the last statement the composer will make in this medium.  Hopefully this will get a studio recording with these same forces where some of the various issues of live performance can be addressed because it’s a brilliant interpretation full of quirk and intense pathos that is so much a part of Vaughan Williams.

As far as recordings, my two favorites of this symphony are Boult’s London Philharmonic and Andre Previn/London Symphony.  The Previn/LSO has an appropriately cataclysmic coda where those tremendous E major chords are so hard fought and fade into infinity.  I find Haitink’s is not true to the score and suffers from poor balance in the recording.  For example, a fortissimo tam-tam strike is virtually inaudible in that recording which would be earth shattering in performance.  Horns are generally muted even when playing at maximum volume, etc.  Basically, there are many technical issues with that recording mostly around poor balance.   I believe Haitink took so long to record the series that this lacks a cohesive vision found in Previn and Boult.  Haitink is excellent in the “Sea Symphony”, pretty good in No. 5 and 7, weak in No. 9.  Previn and Boult are outstanding in No. 5.

My favorite recordings of the series are:
No. 1: Haitink, The London Philharmonic and London Phiharminic Choir
No. 2 (original version): Hickox/London Symphony
No. 2: Previn/Royal Philharmonic or Owain Arwel Hughes/Philharmonic Orchestra
No. 3: Boult/London Philharmonic
No. 4: Boult/London Philharmonic
No. 5: Tie between Boult/London Philharmonic and Previn/LSO
No. 6: Handley/Royal Liverpool Philharmoinc or Boult/London Philharmonic
No. 7: Boult/London Philharmonic or Bakels/Bournemouth Symphony
No. 8: Boult/London Philharmonic
No. 9: Boult/London Philharmonic and Previn/LSO
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