Vaughan Williams/Bax

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COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams/Bax
WORKS: Symphony No. 5; Tintagel
PERFORMER: Philharmonia Orchestra, LSO/John Barbirolli
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 65110 2 ADD (1963/67)
Though there may be more precise accounts of Vaughan Williams’s Fifth, Barbirolli’s 1962 performance has a certainty of vision and an undemonstrative way with the more troubled pages of this action-in-stasis piece that impress with a sense of rightness, the symphony’s lyrical strength and fatalistic character being purposefully conveyed. Bax’s evocative tone poem received sumptuous playing from the LSO on their 1965 version, with Barbirolli separating its many strands into a beautifully defined and balanced sound picture. Exceptional clarity and presence distinguish the recording, though I recall a stronger bass on the LP version of Tintagel. George Hall