© 2013 London Philharmonic Orchestra Ltd
℗ 2013 BBC
Recorded live at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London on 15 December 1994 (Symphony No. 5) and 27 November 1984 (Symphony No. 7)
Total playing time: 85:43
Released September 2013
Remastering Engineer: Deborah Spanton, K&A Productions
CD: Vaughan Williams – Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7
LPO conducted by Bernard Haitink
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)
Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 7 (Sinfonia antartica)
Bernard Haitink conductor
Sheila Armstrong soprano
Ladies of the London Philharmonic Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958) lived through two world wars and a time as turbulent as any in British history. Yet although his Fifth Symphony was largely composed during the Second World War, it includes some of his most tranquil music, its pastoral serenity set vividly against the backdrop of war-torn Europe. The Seventh Symphony, Sinfonia antartica, began life as Vaughan Williams's score for the film Scott of the Antarctic, whose themes of human endeavour, stoicism and courage hugely moved and inspired the composer. Scott and his men might have perished, but their spirit lives on in Vaughan Williams's original and atmospheric music.
‘A reminder of the no-nonsense virtues of Haitink’s Vaughan Williams conducting, with an approach to the symphonies that shows the same clarity of thought and acute awareness of musical architecture that are such assets in his Bruckner and Mahler performances; the unhurried unfolding of the Fifth Symphony is particularly impressive.’
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 22 August 2013
‘The quieter spots are exquisite in this 1984 performance [of the Seventh], but the more raucous climaxes are breathtaking, particularly the huge organ outburst in the third movement, Landscape. Haitink’s control is impeccable, the work feeling far more than the sum of its parts.
The Scherzo [of the Fifth] bristles with life, and the sublime Romanza features some exquisite wind playing ... The orchestral playing is excellent, and these are marvellous performances of supremely enjoyable music.'
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 14 September 2013
'Haitink conveys the desolation and grandeur of the Antarctic with chilling effect. Highly recommended.'
Gavin Engelbrecht, The Northern Echo, 29 August 2013
'Haitink unpacks and unfolds this score [the Fifth] with consummate skill, and the tugging rhythms of the Scherzo are controlled with disarming ease. As for the LPO they respond with a rare blend of alacrity and character, and one hears their affection for this music in every bar ... This caught-on-the-wing Festival Hall Fifth is everything a live recording should be, but very seldom is: it's played from the heart.'
Dan Morgan, MusicWeb International, 8 October 2013
'The Dutch maestro's conception possesses a noble defiance, senese of spectable and symphonic breadth ... No true RVW fan can afford to miss this rewarding double-pack.'
Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, November 2013
'Both have the kind of febrile intensity that Haitink can generate in a concert and the Sinfonia antartica is particularly memorable, with a notable contribution from the Festival Hall organ. Admirer's of Haitink's Vaughan Williams are likely to want these concert performances as a supplement to his studio cycle.'
International Record Review, November 2013
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