The start of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ career was long and slow, and it was not until the publication of his Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, together with The London Symphony of 1914, that he began to gain recognition from the public. Even his sometime teacher of composition, Henry Wood, had commented: ‘That foolish young man, Ralph Vaughan Williams… he was so hopelessly bad at it’. The difficulty, as Vaughan Williams lamented later in life, was his ‘amateurish technique’ and his dissatisfaction with the general state of the English music scene. Struggling to carve a niche for himself and to discover his own musical style, Vaughan Williams set about collecting as many of the country’s native folksongs as he could find, transcribing and preserving them as part of what became an extensive personal collection.
Over time, these songs came to permeate his own music, making him popular both with English audiences and with composers looking for fresh inspiration in their own work. Even towards the end of his composing career, Vaughan Williams was still finding creative stimulation from these folk materials and in 1953 he admitted: ‘I have so much music in my head I know I will never have time to write it down.’ But much to the nation’s surprise, instead of shying away from public life in his final years, Vaughan Williams seemed to launch himself into composition with renewed vigour, producing three new symphonies, a tuba concerto and several song cycles – among other works.
Total time: 01:06:50
Bass, Bassoon, Clarinet, Contra Bassoon, Flute, Horn, Timpani, Cello, Harp, Oboe, Percussion, Trumpet, Viola, Violin
|Original Recording Format|
Robina G. Young
Brad Michel, Matthew Bennett
St. John's Smith Square, London
|Recording Type & Bit Rate|
|Release Date||May 22, 2015|
The long, sinuous song that is Vaughan Williams’s beguiling oboe concerto is something of a calling card for Nicholas Daniel. He won the BBC young musician of the year playing it and here he directs the Britten Sinfonia in addition to his role as soloist.
It’s a huge work for any player (nearly 40 minutes of almost continuous solo work) but Daniel makes it feel like an easy stroll down a particularly English country lane. The MacMilllan concerto, on the other hand, is a seriously virtuosic piece, making big technical demands of its dedicatee, particularly in the hilariously hectic finale.
This is a bravura display by Daniel, with lightly assured playing from the always-rewarding Britten Sinfonia.
This lovely album contains two major British oboe concertos featuring soloist Nicholas Daniel with the Britten Sinfonia. The playing of the Britten Sinfonia is at the highest level.
Audio-wise, this is a fine recording, with lovely string sounds and satisfying dynamics. The Sinfonia is nicely spread between the front speakers, while the rear channels provide ambiance that nicely reproduces the recording venue.
While the music is mostly sedate, I consider this a demo quality disc for the richness of the sound and the care taken in the recording, done at St. John’s Smith Square in London.
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