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Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music / Five Mystical Songs / Fantasia on Christmas Carols / Flos Campi ~ Best [Import]

Thomas Allen , John Connell , Arthur Davids , Maldwyn Davies , Anne Dawson , Ralph Vaughan Williams , Matthew Best , Nobuko Imai , English Chamber Orchestra , Corydon Singers Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Price: $19.01 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Performer: Nobuko Imai, English Chamber Orchestra, Corydon Singers
  • Conductor: Matthew Best
  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (November 17, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B000002ZNQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,966 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Serenade To Music
2. Serenade To Music: Five Mystical Songs - Easter
3. Serenade To Music: Five Mystical Songs - I Got Me Flowers
4. Serenade To Music: Five Mystical Songs - Love Bade Me Welcome
5. Serenade To Music: Five Mystical Songs - The Call
6. Serenade To Music: Five Mystical Songs - Antiphon
7. Serenade To Music: Fantasia On Christmas Carols
8. Serenade To Music: Flos Campi

Editorial Reviews

Not only is this album an essential compilation for Vaughan Williams fans, but it's also a treat for anyone who loves beautiful choral music--from the popular and unabashedly romantic Serenade to Music, properly performed here with eight solo singers, to the rarely recorded Fantasia on Christmas Carols. Baritone Thomas Allen, who performs the Five Mystical Songs and solos in the Fantasia, is simply outstanding. --David Vernier

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There'll always be an England! February 19, 2001
Format:Audio CD
The best thing about this recording is the composite selection of this music on a single disc. The Corydon Singers, and particularly Thomas Allen (he of legendary career!) are quite fine, though quirkily I prefer John Shirley-Quirk's version of 'Five Mystical Songs' with Kings College Choir, especially his 'Love Bade Me Welcome' with its magnificent rendering of the last words "and I did sit and eat", which once heard will never forsake your memory. The spare yet intensely textured sound of the Corydon Singers is best suited to the diaphanous 'Serenade to Music'. Vaughan Williams' ability to set a text like no one else is a perfect partner to Shakespeare's arching mastery of the English language! It's a superb piece basically ignored in this country, as are most of VW's symphonies except for the ubiquitous No. 2. When have you heard an American orchestra perform the inventive Eighth or the redemptive Fifth? I agree that Boult's recordings of VW's music are a fine standard, &his 'Serenade' is especially fine, but this recording flourishes. Matthew Best gives space and reason to the beautiful ambience of the score. Flos Campi is well done here with Nobuko Imai's viola playing free of affectation as always, displaying an unpretentious mastery of the score. The 'Fantasia' (one of VW's favorite musical motives, even when not properly so called!) demonstrates Vaughan Williams' true veneration of the English hymn tune, a fetching gift that annointed all of us throughout his composing career, and perhaps more than anything secured for him a place in the pantheon of great composers. This is a successful disc of masterworks of an often misunderstood and certainly under-performed composer. Read more ›
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the finest of English vocal music January 9, 2001
Format:Audio CD
Of this collection, only the "Five Mystical Songs" will be familiar to most listeners. It is a treat to discover the remaining works all available in one package, and especially good to hear them.
"Serenade to Music" (with words by Shakespeare) is quintessential Vaughan Williams: a beautifully crafted piece echoing the height of Romanticism, with a unique and fascinating story behind it. The work was written for a Promenade Concert - more specifically, it was written for sixteen solo singers, who are identified by name in the published score and were amongst the best of their time. Not only was the piece a triumph for them at the concert, it also caught the attention of the composer Rachmaninov, who was moved to tears by the music. The piece is rarely performed because of the fact that it was specially composed for the first performers; as stated in the notes for this recording, it only works if the performers are of as high a standard as the originals. Hence, the "cast" of this CD includes some celebrated names from the world of vocal music: John Mark Ainsley, Thomas Allen, Maldwyn Davies, Anne Dawson, Martyn Hill, Diana Montague, Alan Opie and Jean Rigby are particular standouts. Their rendition is spell-binding and rivetting, although I find that there are moments when their more operatic traits get the better of them and ruin the tuning and clarity of melodic and harmonic details. I don't mean to say that it is a bad recording, but I have heard better ones (Sir Adrian Boult's will probably remain untouchable for a long time to come). Still, a pleasure to hear, and extremely moving - it's not hard to see why Rachmaninov was so deeply affected by the piece.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent recordings, and an outstanding "Serenade" December 19, 2000
Format:Audio CD
In the liner notes, Christopher Palmer notes that Rachmaninoff himself wept at the beauty of "Serenade to Music" at its 1938 première; this may rank as the finest setting of Shakespeare ever created [it sets parts of Jessica's and Lorenzo's speeches in Act V of "Merchant of Venice"].
I, too, have wept at the beauty of this recording. The sixteen soloists are all outstanding, by themselves and in the 'tutti' passages. As wonderful as other recordings have been (notably Bernstein and Boult), the singing in this one blows them all away. [It is worth noting that this may be the largest number of solos in any major work; even Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" calls for but eight.]
The remaining works are no less wonderful: just as the "Serenade" fades away, Thomas Allen and the Corydon Singers begin a magnificent recording of the "Five Mystical Songs" with an impassioned "Rise Heart", and the work only gets better from there. "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" is another of Vaughan Williams's masterpieces, both for its showmanship and restraint; Best's forces deliver both admirably. And finally, the "Flos Campi," with Nobuko Imai on viola, is simply ravishing.
This is one of my favorite disks, and one I would recommend highly to anyone.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Find October 4, 2000
Format:Audio CD
I don't know why Serenade to Music is not performed more often. As others have indicated, this beautiful work is the highlight of the disc. This is a piece you can really sit back and get lost in. It's a wonderful listening experience. Conductor Matthew Best does a wonderful job of integrating the voices with the orchestra. The familiar Flos Campi is also a nice performance, as is the Fantasia, which also should be performed more often. My only complaint is in the recording levels: you really have to crank up the volume quite a lot to hear the opening of the Serenade. But on the other hand, if you leave the volume at that setting, the highs really soar. (Just make sure your neighbors are not at home!)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
Ralph Vaughn Williams has a rather spotty output of music, some of it magnificent and some of it, for example the Sinfonia Antarctica, rather kitschy and almost unlistenable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Matthew Cushing
5.0 out of 5 stars A Majestic recording a must have for the CD collection
Recordings like this does not come around too often. This is a truly fantastic recording and a must have for Christmas. Read more
Published on November 28, 2010 by Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Vaughan Williams
My favorite is Seranade To Music it's mystical rendition of a Shakespeares' quote is right on the mark. It has the mystery of a moonlit night near a river captured in music. Read more
Published on August 8, 2010 by Peter A. Gaunt
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical music in wonderful performances
The Serenade to Music was written for Sir Henry Wood's Jubilee in 1938 and requires sixteen vocal soloists; in fact, Vaughan Williams also wrote the vocal lines with the individual... Read more
Published on July 24, 2010 by G.D.
I am an unabashed admirer of Vaughan Williams pastoral, quasi-spiritual sensuality. I own all of the Hyperion and Chandos VW discs. Read more
Published on March 27, 2010 by Gengler
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the finest Vaughan Williams recordings ever.
This CD contains two of my all-time favorite VW pieces - the Serenade To Music and the Fantasia On Christmas Carols. Two very different, but beautiful pieces. Read more
Published on December 30, 2008 by Pete
This is the second time that I am purchasing this performance of the Fantasia on Christmas Carols. Back when this recording was first released, there was a problem with "CD Rot",... Read more
Published on December 15, 2008 by J P Falcon
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasia on Christmas Carols
I only listened to the Fantasia on Christmas Carols in depth at this moment in time. Sir Thomas Allen is superb in his interpretation of this choral masterpiece. Read more
Published on November 25, 2007 by Tim Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars what a setting of Shakespeare!
How sweet the singers weave in and out of Serenade to Music! In line after line, Vaughan Williams amazingly goes from low register to high climax in short spans and phrases. Read more
Published on October 5, 2007 by James R. Fitzsimmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Small, endearing masterpieces from the twilight of empire
English society was still so secure in the imperial twilight (1910-40) that native composers could afford to ignore the revolution mounted by Schonberg, Webern, Berg, and... Read more
Published on January 14, 2006 by Santa Fe Listener
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