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Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5/Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis [Hybrid SACD - DSD]

Vaughan Williams , Robert Spano , Atlanta Symphony Orchestra , Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5/Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis + Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony + Suite 2 Daphnis Et Chloe Pavane / Valse / Bolero
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Product Details

  • Performer: Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus
  • Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Robert Spano
  • Composer: Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (April 24, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000NIWIC2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,090 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Psalm Tunes (9) for Archbishop Parker's Psalter, for 4 voices: Why fum'th in fight?
2. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, for 2 string orchestras
3. Symphony No. 5 in D major: Preludio: Moderato
4. Symphony No. 5 in D major: Scherzo: Presto
5. Symphony No. 5 in D major: Romanza: Lento
6. Symphony No. 5 in D major: Passacaglia: Moderato
7. Serenade to Music, for orchestra (arranged from the choral work)

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
This super audio disc in multi-channel splendor is a fine thing.

Briefly, the disc starts off with the choir intoning the old Tallis hymn setting upon whose melody the RVW Tallis Fantasia is built.

Then we get the full fantasia proper, scored for a kaleidoscope of strings. Spano's interpretive approach is colorful, luscious, forward-moving, and above all, folk-lorico. He lets the strings drench, paint, reflect myriad lights bright and soft, and overflow the harmonic banks, just as much as this great streaming flood of musical fantasy passes through more typical RVW moments of modal mystery and meditation. Whew. Very high calorie, then.

Then the disc leads us right into the wartime depths of RVW's Fifth Symphony. Premiered in a bomb shelter in London during the blitz of World War II, this symphony startled its first listening audience with sounds of profound calm and lyricism. Yes, something in the constantly shifting modal harmonies throughout all four movements manages to suggest that there are dark things, indeed, that go bump in the British night. To protect children from the bombing, they had been moved into the countryside, and this massive displacement offered John Bowlby a naturalistic opportunity to study the development of childhood attachment, affected by the vicissitudes of separation and change and loss. To hear the unease in this symphony's music, you would infer that pretty much everybody felt what the children must have been feeling, somehow. And, so turned to the wider and deeper realms that make us more human than bombs or separations or displacements per se.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Other-Worldly Pleasure July 7, 2009
This is about as close to a perfect recording as earthly possible. The program opens with the chorus singing the theme by Thomas Tallis that gave rise to the beloved Fantasia by Vaughan Williams. Wonderful, wonderful music.

But there's more. Spano and his Atlanta forces then provide a thoughtful, moving rendition of the great Symphony No. 5, a work of quiet power that never fails to stir the soul. Then, to round things out, the chorus rejoins the orchestra for a lovely rendition of the gorgeous Serenade to Music.

Telarc has outdone itself this time. With more than 70 minutes of such beautiful music in such full-bodied sound, this recording delivers other-worldly pleasure to both the audiophile and the music lover.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dissenting opinion July 20, 2010
I'm used to being a dissenter, so here is an alternate viewpoint. Now shoot me.

Peter Warlock's often-quoted comment that "it is all just a little too much like a cow looking over a gate" was actually about Vaughan Williams' overall style, rather than this particular symphony, Anyway, he would have been right, but for this performance of VW 5 only.

This is beautifully played, serene and spiritual. But VW was also a man of great fire and passion (note the explosive 4th and 6th symphonies which bracket this), and the best performances reflect this dichotomy- this one doesn't: it's all one mood and one feeling. So much worthiness at one go, it's like taking a couple of Mogadon. And I just LOVE this music. But one-note VW is not for me.

The same issue permeates the Tallis Fantasia; it's all reverent, hushed and dewy-eyed. But just listen to the great Barbirolli or Silvestri performances to hear what's missing.

Although I must admit that its juxtaposition with the original Tallis 4-part hymn ' Why fum'th in fight' is a masterstroke.

I haven't mentioned the sound yet- that's unusual for me. It sucks! I actually had to check a couple of times to see if it was actually playing the SACD rather than RBCD layer. It's bloated, fuzzy, unfocussed and - most noticeably - shockingly un-transparent. Really. No, it's not my high end gear, as soon as I put on a MoFi, BIS, Chandos, Caro Mitis... you get the idea... the see-through transparency is back!

On a broader note, I find Telarcs to be thoroughly inconsistent. Some - most noticeably the old Soundstream remasters - were good to excellent. More modern ones were a very mixed bag, suffering varously from:

1) Wow, look what a big bass drum I have!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars atmosphere and poise in this rendition....... February 9, 2008
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Vaughan Williams composed works which Anglophiles can readily relate to, supported as they are by English folk music themes, medieval refrains and particularly 'English' musical structures such as early Middle English psalms and chorales. I first heard this recording on Australia's ABC Classical FM, and the presenter echoed my immediately favourable impression, commenting positively on the sensitive interpretation offered by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The Fantasia is played in a reverent and very integrated fashion, with superb tension. I own earlier versions of this work, and can report that this playing is both atmospheric and poised by comparison. It is especially pleasing to see it coupled with the Tallis piece "Why Fum'th in Fight?', sung so delicately by the orchestra's chamber chorus and offering a prelude thereby to the Fantasia itself. The recording is well complemented by the Symphony no.5 in D major which serves as a further offering of insight into this composer's music. The Hybrid multi-channel CD recording quality is transparent and very well defined, and should amply reward listeners with SACD players.
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