Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 9, Job - Andrew Davis

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 9, Job - Andrew Davis

Chandos  CHSA 5180

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 9, Job - A Masque for Dancing

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Andrew Davis (conductor)

The projected complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies started by the late Richard Hickox has left a precious heritage in the discography of the composer.

Now, conducting the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, that other expert in British repertoire, Sir Andrew Davis, takes on the challenge of completing the series with idiomatic interpretations of two masterpieces: the final Symphony (No. 9) and the ballet Job.

The score of Job places an emphasis on tableau-like scenes, dances, and mime, linking it to a tradition of English ballet with dances from the seventeenth century, including the saraband, pavane, and galliard. In this masterly score, Vaughan Williams captures the conflict between good and evil, between the spiritual and the material. Job shows a strength, beauty, nobility, and visionary power which unite the many different facets of Vaughan Williams’s musical style. The poignant and musically enigmatic Symphony No. 9 marks ‘the end of Ralph’s life and [is] a turning point. It is leading out into another place. It is extraordinary’, as the composer’s wife stated after one of the early performances.

The subtle direction of Sir Andrew Davis combined with the pure sound quality of this SACD does full justice to Hickox’s great enterprise and promises a powerful conclusion of this already acclaimed recorded cycle.

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PCM recording

Comments (2)

Comment by Scott Adair - January 5, 2017 (1 of 2)

Well, I guess I'm glad they'll be "completing the series," especially as we have no SACD versions of the 7th or 9th. On the other hand, I have to say it is a disappointment that this will be 24/96 instead of DSD. Mind you, the Hickox recordings go back at least as far as 1999 with the 5th, which was 20-bit. I'm pretty sure it was 24/96 for everything else except the Sea Symphony, which was DSD.

Perhaps Bis, Linn or Channel will someday give us a proper VW symphony cycle in DSD without audience noise (sorry, Pentatone & Melba) and no choral or vocal fillers, which I found very annoying with the Hickox recordings. Also, I have to say I find his 3rd, the only SACD available, to be a pretty odd performance. As it stands now, you can't cobble together a decent set by mixing conductors/labels, and, even if Davis does an excellent job (pun intended) with 7 & 9, we could still use a top notch version of the London Symphony in its final revision, a less eccentric 3rd, and better performed and engineered versions of 6 & 8.

All that said, I've already pre-ordered this disc and will be grateful to have it (Thanks, Chandos!). I guess, as a Vaughan Williams (and Martinu) enthusiast, I can't help but be jealous of all the fine SACDs that Mahler & Bruckner fans get showered with.

Comment by diw - January 8, 2017 (2 of 2)

Davis is scheduled to perform the 7th in Bergen at the end of January, so I assume we will get the final disc of this cycle around this time next year.

I can't argue that the SQ of the average Chandos SACD has significantly improved since the cycle started. So I wouldn't object if they decided to rerecord all of the RVW symphonies.