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.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Job
Scene 1: Introduction - Pastoral Dance - Satan's Appeal to God
Scene 1: Sarabande of the Sons of God
Scene 2: Satan's Dance of Triumph
Scene 3: Minuet of the Sons of Job and Their Wives
Scene 4: Job's Dream. Dance of Plague, Pestilence, Famine and Battle
Scene 5: Dance of the Messengers
Scene 6: Dance of Job's Comforters. Job's Curse. A Vision of Satan
Scene 7: Elihu's Dance of Youth and Beauty
Scene 7: Pavane of the Sons of the Morning
Scene 8: Galliard of the Sons of Morning
Scene 8: Altar Dance
Scene 9: Epilogue
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor
I. Moderato maestoso
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Scherzo: Allegro pesante
IV. Andante tranquillo
“Davis, vastly experienced as a conductor of this composer, is every bit as idiomatic as the score’s dedicatee and finds the Bergen Philharmonic in virtuoso and sensitive form.”
“a performance of striking composure, lustre and palpable dedication. Not only do the Bergen Philharmonic respond with notable poise and eagerness (solo contributions are of the highest quality throughout), Davis conducts with unobtrusive authority as well as a sure hand on the structural tiller, uncovering a wealth of telling harmonic and textural detail along the way.”
1st March 2017
“A mandatory purchase for all Vaughan Williams enthusiasts.”
10th February 2017
“While the loss of Hickox was, and remains, a huge loss to fans of this music, there could be no finer conductor to receive the baton than Andrew Davis...Davis seems to avoid some of Handley’s showmanship – giving less of a punch to some of the more impassioned outbursts – but conversely there’s a clarity here in some of the more intricate contrapuntal passages that Handley sometimes fails to match.”
19th March 2017
“The versatile Bergen band clearly revel in the expansive, unmistakably “English” tunes and the sometimes exotic orchestration...Davis today has no peers in this repertoire, which, added to Chandos’s brilliantly “present” sound engineering, makes this a self-recommending issue.”