Top positive review
Fantastic recording and interpretation
on February 15, 2014
Disclaimer up front: I absolutely love this music. When I'm melancholy, thoughtful, lonely, or just plain relaxing late at night, this disk gets played an awful lot. The Fantasia is wonderfully done, and hooks me immediately every time. The stand-out for me is the Lark Ascending recording, which is truly wonderful. I have over a dozen versions of the Lark, and this recording is the one I always pick out to listen to. (My father, unfortunately long passed, was a sound engineer and musician; this piece was his absolute favorite, so I can't listen to it without thinking of him which adds poignancy every time.) As you would expect if you've been in the classical field for a while, Marriner and the ASMF is in top form, breathing a lightness and beauty into this music. The recording is superb, too, with great dynamics and clarity. Listen on a really high-end system (or high-end headphones) and you'll hear between the music, understanding how the overtones interact with each other, raising the music even higher.
Some of Vaughan Williams' music I can take or leave, but this disc features the best he has to offer as far as composition, conveyance of the wonderful English countryside, and wistful longing for home. There's no crash-boom-bang, just soaring violin lines, fantastic melodies, and peaceful thoughts. Probably number 2 on my ten desert island disk list (behind Kleiber's Beethoven 5 & 7), this is one disk I never am without: it's on my phone, tablet, computer, and CD player on a regular rotation. Beautiful music, beautifully recorded.