Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music; Flos campi; Five Mystical Songs; Fantasia on Christmas Carols

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COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams
LABELS: Hyperion 20th Anniversary
WORKS: Serenade to Music; Flos campi; Five Mystical Songs; Fantasia on Christmas Carols
PERFORMER: Thomas Allen (baritone), Nobuko Imai (viola); Corydon Singers, ECO/Matthew Best
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 20420 Reissue (1990)
These four first-rate Vaughan Williams performances, recorded ten years ago, are reissued in a special limited edition to mark Hyperion’s 20th anniversary. It is especially good to re-encounter Nobuko Imai’s haunting playing of the viola solo in that most mysterious and under-rated of VW’s major works, Flos campi, in which the exotic and erotic are mystically mingled. Matthew Best conducts a fine performance by the Corydon Singers and English Chamber Orchestra as he does also of the Five Mystical Songs and Fantasia on Christmas Carols, sturdily and rapturously sung by Thomas Allen. The magical Serenade to Music is performed in its original version for 16 solo singers and orchestra (Best and ECO again). Amanda Roocroft exquisitely floats the final Isobel Baillie phrase and Elizabeth Connell has Eva Turner’s dramatic outburst. But all these contemporary singers prove worthy of their 1938 predecessors. Clear, well-balanced recording quality. Michael Kennedy

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