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  • Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis / Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus
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Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis / Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus

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Audio CD, May 23, 2000
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1. Toward The Unknown Region - City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
2. Norfolk Rhapsody No.1 In E Minor - City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
3. Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis - City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
4. Five Variants Of 'Dives And Lazarus' - City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
5. 1. The Conspiracy - Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
6. 2. Drinking Song - Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
7. 3. Falstaff And The Fairies - Helen Field
8. 4. Wedding Chorus - Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
9. 5. Epilogue - Bournemouth Symphony Chorus

Product Details

  • Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Sinfonietta
  • Conductor: Norman del Mar
  • Composer: Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (May 23, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Angel Records
  • ASIN: B000005GQN
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,223 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
The Tallis Fantasia, Norfolk Rhapsody, Five Variants and Toward the Unknown Region were recorded with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in August 1980 and produced by Chalfont records of England; I believe they never released the recording but licensed it to EMI UK: it got its first LP outing on UK EMI ASD 4089 in 1982 (see uploaded photo). It also appeared in the USA, in 1982 or 1983, on a label called Andante (AD72404), apparently a subsidiary of Varèse Sarabande (and nothing to do with the Andante label which in the years 2000 specialized in reissues of historical material on lavish CD sets). Its first CD reissue was on Varèse Sarabande VCD 47248, with no filler, and this is how I have it: Toward the Unknown Region. It took me years to locate an entry for that CD on this website, because it was listed under the label Chalfont rather than Varèse Sarabande. It is sonically great, with lush and environning sound, except for a very soft electronic buzz that you can hear in the softest passages, like the beginning of the Tallis Fantasia or Norfolk Rhapsody. But it is now offered at unreasonable prices on the marketplace.

Anyway, at 47:33, it was too short for a CD. It was reissued by the label Klavier, Toward the Unknown, which sells very cheap at the time of writing, but with an inept filler (also from the Varèse Sarabande catalog): a filler just to be able to say there is a filler; program, conductor and orchestra have no relation whatsoever with the Vaughan Williams/Del Mar/Birmingham material.
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Format: Audio CD
Maestro Del Mar (1919-94) specialized in Mahler, Strauss, Elgar, Delius, Britten and Bax and recorded surprisingly little Vaughan Williams apart from these reassembled sides and a larger two-disc overview of orchestral VW for Chandos. So this smart coupling of Chalfont and EMI digital recordings made in Birmingham and Bournemouth represents a special excursion into the very competitive VW repertoire for the more familiar mainstream works (TALLIS, DIVES and NORFOLK) and--always characteristic of programmatically daring Del Mar--a welcome chance to hear first-rate accounts of the choral rarities TOWARD THE UNKNOWN REGION and the habitually neglected IN WINDSOR FOREST. Del Mar deserves representation in this comprehensive and generally rewarding British Composers series, and as idiomatic modern interpretations go, these certainly compare favorably with the trusted VW staples in the series conducted by Boult, Barbirolli, Hickox, Sargent and Willcocks. The overlap is quite minimal, with Del Mar's NORFOLK and DIVES recordings possessing a far more sumptuous sonic picture than the classic analogue recordings of Boult and Barbirolli, with which wise collectors will never part.

I'll play the choral bookends most often, for they're both sadly underappreciated VW in oratorical and operatic modes, UNKNOWN REGION being a bold Whitman setting that anticipates the declamatory First Symphony (the wordless Eighth as well) in a major way, and the delicate and witty WINDSOR was relabeled a "dramatic cantata" consisting of the striking choral ensembles from the Falstaffian opera SIR JOHN IN LOVE.
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