Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8
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|1. Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7): Prelude: Andante maestoso - Lento - Poco animato - Piu mosso - Tranquillo - Andante moderato con moto - Largamente|
|2. Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7): Scherzo: Moderato|
|3. Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7): Landscape: Lento -|
|4. Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7): Intermezzo: Andante sostenuto - Allegretto - Pesante - Tempo primo tranquillo|
|5. Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7): Epilogue: Alla marcia, moderato (non troppo allegro) - Andante maestoso|
|6. Symphony No. 8 In D Minor: Fantasia (Variazioni senza Tema): Moderato - Presto - Andante sostenuto - Allegretto - Andante non troppo - Allegro vivace - Andante sostenuto - Largamente - Tempo primo ma tranquillo|
|7. Symphony No. 8 In D Minor: Scherzo alla Marcia (per stromenti a fiato): Allegro alla marcia - Andante - Tempo primo|
|8. Symphony No. 8 In D Minor: Cavatina (per stromenti ad arco): Lento espressivo|
|9. Symphony No. 8 In D Minor: Toccata: Moderato maestoso|
|10. Movement Superscriptions For Sinfonia antartica: Prometheus Unbound: Prelude: 'To Suffer Woes Which Hope Thinks Infinite' (Percy Bysshe Shelley)|
|11. Movement Superscriptions For Sinfonia antartica: Book Of Common Prayer, Psalm 104: Schezro: 'There Go The Ships'|
|12. Movement Superscriptions For Sinfonia antartica: Hymn Before Sunrise, In The Vale Of Chamouni: Landscape: 'Ye Ice Falls!' (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)|
|13. Movement Superscriptions For Sinfonia antartica: The Sun Rising: Intermezzo: 'Love, All Alike,' (John Donne)|
|14. Movement Superscriptions For Sinfonia antartica: Message To The Public: Epilogue: 'I Do Not Regret This Journey;' (Captain Robert Falcon Scott)|
Dutchman Kees Bakels presides over a notably clear-headed and consistently warm-hearted account of Vaughan Williams's breathtakingly evocative and stirring Sinfonia Antartica of 1952 (the Seventh of the composer's nine symphonies, drawn from material from his score for the 1949 Ealing film Scott of the Antarctic). With the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on impressive form--and fine contributions from the women from the Waynflete Singers, soprano Lynda Russell and organist Christopher Dowie (whose entry in the awesome central "Landscape" has plenty of tummy-wobbling grandeur)--Bakels's sympathetic reading generates a endearing cogency and (more important still) humanity. What's more, Naxos allow the listener to programme in separately the published superscriptions at the head of each movement: David Timson delivers the texts most eloquently. The Eighth Symphony (completed three years after its bigger brother here) also comes off well but is perhaps rather less memorable as an interpretation, and in the gorgeous "Cavatina" slow movement one tends to notice the marginal lack of refinement in the hard-working Bournemouth string section. All the same, if your budget won't extend to André Previn's identical LSO coupling on mid-price RCA Gold Seal, rest assured that this bargain-basement Naxos issue represents very decent value indeed. --Andrew Achenbach
Top Customer Reviews
First, the man was a superb melodist. He was not a mere tunesmith, to be sure, but crafted works that are primarily conceived in terms of melodic development, and this makes his work immediately appealing. Second, he was a highly original thinker who used his colossal technique (he had a doctorate in composition and studied with Ravel) for surprisingly modern ends. His music can at times sound like a mixture of Bach and Debussy, but it is always unmistakably Vaughan Williams. He had a penchant for modal counterpoint, and his streams of parallel chords place his work squarely in the 20th century.
Vaughan Williams' unique talent for scoring is evident throughout this excellent recording of his 7th and 8th symphonies. The "Sinfonia antartica" is based upon a film score he supplied for a film about the explorer Robert Scott. It is by turns brooding and wistful--an ideal introduction to this magnificent composer. Symphony No. 8 is a more eclectic affair, brighter in temperament overall, but a rewarding example of the surprises that lurk around every corner of RVW's work.
Was he the greatest symphonist of the 20th century? The jury's still out. He certainly created a body of symphonic work that is second to none in its richness, diversity, and consistency. Mahler, Sibelius, and Shostakovich are usually considered the most important symphonists of the last century, but for those who seek other fare, you can't do better than Vaughan Williams.
The Vaughan Williams eighth symphony exhibits a few interesting parallels with the eighth symphony of the composer whose oeuvre established the "rule of nine" in the writing of symphonies: Beethoven.
Beethoven's Opus 93 strikes some listeners as both "a step backwards" from the rambunctious and expansive seventh (with its electrifying "double scherzo" and achingly intense theme-and-variations slow movement), and a mystification before the grandiose Opus 125. It is something of a look back towards Haydn; it is charming, and elegant, and seems to do entirely without the dramatic musical rhetoric of which Beethoven's third, fifth and seventh symphonies provide ample and potent illustration. It is the sort of thing which "musical progressivists" say we composers cannot do; you can almost hear the phrase spoken, "you can never go back."
Yet, in his eighth symphony, Beethoven succeeds, marvelously and musically; he does, and does not, "go back." Vaughan Williams does something of the same, in his eighth. Even though Vaughan Williams' seventh was composed originally as film music, and then adapted as a symphony in his 'cycle' (or perhaps because of this), the eighth seems like a deliberate step away from musical dramtization, and into the realm of abstract, 'pure' music, a music which functions on its own, not driven by any extra-musical 'program.Read more ›
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The "Antarctica Symphony" portion of this disk has been called "the best digital recording ever made", and is often recommended for use as a demonstration disk... Read morePublished on March 16 2002 by Doc Sarvis