Magazine article Gramophone

Vaughan Williams: Symphonies-No 2

Magazine article Gramophone

Vaughan Williams: Symphonies-No 2

Article excerpt

Vaughan Williams

Symphonies--No 2, 'A London Symphony'; No 8

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Manze

Onyx (F) ONYX4155 (76' * DDD)

Repertoire, orchestra, producer (Andrew Keener) and venue (Liverpool Philharmonic Hall) prompt rosy memories of Vernon Handley's distinguished March 1992 sessions for EMI Eminence (8/93, now available on CfP). How do Andrew Manze's accounts hold up against such formidable competition? Pretty well, I'd say. With the RLPO on their toes throughout, Manze's agreeably vigilant reading of A London Symphony brings much to admire in its clean-cut, unexaggerated demeanour, though some--myself included --may feel he occasionally fights just a little shy of the darker emotions coursing beneath RVW's sublimely compassionate masterpiece; for example, the third movement's remarkable coda should surely shudder with a rather greater sense of expectant hush ahead of that 'great tragic cry' (to borrow a phrase used by Donald Tovey in a different context) which launches the finale.

Where Handley remains unassailable, of course, is in the architectural splendour of his magnificently inevitable conception--I'd put it on a par with his mentor Adrian Boult's toweringly cogent 1952 Decca version (set down at Kingsway Hall in the presence of the composer); and for sheer lump-in-the-throat wonder and intoxicating atmosphere it's still hard to beat the 1957 Halle/Barbirolli and 1972 LSO/Previn. …

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