Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1; The Lark Ascending; Fantasia on Greensleeves; Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’; In the Fen Country

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams
LABELS: Argo
WORKS: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1; The Lark Ascending; Fantasia on Greensleeves; Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’; In the Fen Country
PERFORMER: Hagai Shaham (violin)New Queen’s Hall Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
CATALOGUE NO: 440 116-2 DDD
This is the first recording by the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, which reformed in 1992, reviving performing practices and instruments used at the beginning of the century. They use, for example, narrow-bore brass instruments to improve orchestral balance and gut strings for a more mellow sound. The results are ravishing, particularly for the muted colours of these English landscape portraits. Wordsworth’s opening pages of the Norfolk Rhapsody are especially effective, evoking vast, flat, still landscapes wreathed in dawn mists. His In the Fen Country and Greensleeves are warm and ardent. The Thomas Tallis Fantasia, however, lacks some light and shade. But with a more sympathetic acoustic and added contrast and attack, one might better sense the music stealing softly through and reaching exultantly to the roof of some great cathedral. Andrew Davis, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Teldec, succeeds in such an evocation and Tasmin Little’s Lark, on the same disc, eloquently soars and swoops. Shaham displays fine phrasing and intonation but is rather too careful, his Lark less free. Wordsworth’s Dives and Lazarus sags a bit now and then, nevertheless it sounds sumptuous. Ian Lace

Advertisement