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Vaughan Williams: Sinfonia Antartica/The Wasps

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 11, 1991
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  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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5:33
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11:44
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5:32
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9:55
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10:12
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2:48
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Product Details

  • Performer: Norma Burrowes
  • Orchestra: London Philharmonic Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: John Alldis, Adrian Boult
  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (October 11, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000002S2Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,046 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
THIS SYMPHONY is, definitely, one of the most important works of the 20th century. It's a heavy piece of music, not really of the quiet listening sort. Most readers will undoubtedly agree that the heart of this symphony is the Landscape movement with it's window-shattering organ passage. As a reviewer for Good-Music-Guide so promptly remarked : "The Sinfonia Antartica is a wonderful piece of music and those who dismiss it as `mere film music' are forgetting the genius of Vaughan Williams. [...] I love the novel, exotic sounds and techniques Vaughan Williams created to describe the Antarctic landscape ; you are practically transported there! It is a work of incredible musical imagination. The use of wordless soprano and chorus, the wind machine, the use of block organ chords to symbolize the glacier; they are master strokes." I couldn't agree more. There are many elements that contrive to make this fine symphonic oeuvre a master's work.

The thematic concept foreshadows the resurgence of spirit previously seen and heard in the film 'Scott of the Antarctic' and its music. Therefore, the symphony has much of a motion picture, "soundtrack-like" temperament ; still, the symphonic form stands as the core of this huge work. There is no denying of the composer's mastery of form and harmonic coloring for, as orchestral parts should go, this symphony is every bit as much efficient as his best film scores. Interpretation can do the difference, however, with more or less of a "straight" symphonic approach or within the confines of a "cinemascopic treatment"--variable from one conductor/orchestra to another. Which is exactly why one can guess, even without knowing the roots of the symphony in the first place, that it all was strongly built on music for a motion picture.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ordered this CD from Amazon.com and was not familiar with the recording or the conductor. A friend recommended this particular recording after we had listened to the work. The sound is great. I am amazed that the sound is almost as good as a digital recording of today. The performance is wonderful. It is apparent in the first movement that Boult truly had the vision of the picture VW was trying to create with his Antarctic Symphony. Listen to the prominent trombones. They're awesome! The mystery, fear, wonder, cold, and intrigue of the Antarctic all seam to be there. Also the liner notes are excellent for deciphering the instruments used to depict various things. On top of all that, this CD isn't full price. My understanding is that this is the best recording of this piece. I would not disagree.
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Format: Audio CD
Too much is made of the 'film music' thing with this piece, in my view. It distracts from the musical value of this astonishing work that develops on VW traditions but goes far beyond them into things that are new.

Boult concentrates on its worth as a symphony. A highly original one with experiments in sound that look well ahead to what came a decade and more later. Am I alone in hearing touches that avant-gardists like Ligeti worked further in the 1960s? The quiet introduction and closing solos of the central landscape movement over the tonal clusters of strings, woodwind, harp and the like? After getting the 'big' parts of this work into perspective, I find it's the startling, quiet, background tensions that point this music forward.

An unparalleled feat perhaps from a great composer getting greater as he grew older.

Quite remarkable invention with wonderful freshness from a man born in 1873! With that looking forward, whilst not forgetting what looks back, that is the hallmark of this 20th century great.
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Format: Audio CD
The Antartica symphony was written to remember the expedition that died in the Antartica. You can hear the winds and the "silence" sound.
This record is the best performance available and incredible. Sir Adrian Boult feels the pain of his countrymen and the orchestra too. For englishmen this was one of the sadest happenings of the 20th century
I bought this record after hearing it live in Mexico city, that was a great performance. I had a previous CD on the complete Leonard Slatkin Vaughan Williams symphonies, but I like this one a lot more.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
RVW used a wind machine in this symphony,the first time he ever used any such thing in any of his compositions.That's great for a novelty,but in his hands,it's genius.The soprano here captures exactly the frigid cold surrounding you.You may just find yourself pulling up your collar!However,the monumental and unexpected thundering organ segment will knock you out of your chair if you have the stereo cranked up too high.It sounds like what an iceberg would sound like if it suddenly surfaced,or whatever icebergs do.Just there in all its frozen beauty.It is absolutely chilling and thrilling.Even if you don't like the rest of the symphony(I can't imagine not loving it),you will be bowled over by the organ playing.Seriously.All of you classical music lovers out there(I'm one,of course!) will be thrilled when you listen to this symphony. Then get all the rest of them,and build yourself a huge RVW CD library,like I have.Sometimes I just load all of his symphony's and the rest of his works into my massive CD-changer and drift away.BTW:If you like Ralph's music,check out Frederick Delius,as well.He is right behind RVW in compositions for strings.
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