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  • Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
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Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis


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Audio CD, April 24, 2007
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TELARC RELEASES THE SINGING ROOMS, FEATURING TWO WORLD PREMIERES BY AMERICAN COMPOSERS
JENNIFER HIGDON & ALVIN SINGLETON

Featuring Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Telarc releases The Singing Rooms on September 21st, 2010. The CD features the world premieres of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s [b 1962] “The Singing ... Read more in Amazon's Robert Spano Store

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Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis + Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony
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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)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000NOKBIE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,776 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Why Fun'th In Fight?
2. Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis
3. Preludio: Moderato
4. Scherzo: Presto
5. Romanza: Lento
6. Passacaglia: Moderato
7. Serenade To Music

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

The major item here, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5, is flanked by one of his most popular works, the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and another regarded as a connoisseur’s delight, the Serenade to Music. Spano prefaces the Fantasia with Tallis’ 16th-century hymn, which Vaughan Williams expanded into an extensive work for two string orchestras and string quartet. It’s a deep toned homage to Renaissance music whose noble expressiveness and archaic harmonies are irresistible, especially when played with the rich string tone of the Atlantans. In the Serenade, written for "sixteen soloists," who also sing as an impeccable choral ensemble, and this well-paced performance is arguably the finest on disc. The Fifth Symphony was written amid the carnage of World War II, but it offered solace instead of anger, reminiscent of the composer’s earlier pastoral works in its serene, autumnal mood. Here too, the orchestra plays with great tonal beauty as Spano directs a performance whose sensitive awareness of the composer’s spiritual subtext does not preclude flowing tempos and pointed phrasing. A disc to treasure! --Dan Davis

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Passarella on December 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This CD usefully and attractively collects some of Vaughan Williams' most serenely beautiful music, including his "other" pastoral symphony, the Symphony No. 5 written in the early years of World War II. As the notes to the recording state, the first hearers of this symphony were possibly perplexed to hear this gentle successor to the angry, militant Symphony No. 4 completed in 1934 as war clouds gathered over Europe. I guess it just goes to prove that interior states and external events don't always square with one another in the creative life. After all, Beethoven and Mozart both created some of their sunniest and most confident works at difficult periods in their lives. And there's no indication that Mozart was in extremis when he wrote some of his most tragically intense compositions, such as the Piano Concerto No. 20 and Symphony No. 40. So how to explain the pastoral radiance of Vaughan Williams' Fifth? No way to fully explain it, perhaps. However, the notes to the recording reveal that Vaughn Williams wrote the symphony while working on his opera The Pilgrim's Progress, so it's not surprising that the two works share the message of comfort in adversity that is at the heart of John Bunyan's allegorical tale.

Actually, when I first heard this symphony, in a critically acclaimed version by Previn back in the 1970s, I really didn't get it. I thought it was a pale sibling of the hard-hitting Fourth; the alternately manic and depressive Sixth; the cinematic Seventh; the brilliantly orchestrated, classically proportioned Eighth. But certainly I get this symphony in Spano's fine performance. He shapes the long melodic lines with tenderness and yet finds the points of tension, in the first and last movements especially, that reflect the troubling times in which the work was written.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 7, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Two of the works on this disc--Vaughan Williams' Fifth Symphony and the Tallis Fantasia--are actually rather hard to review. That's because the works themselves are so sublimely written (the reception the Fifth received, according to one VW scholar, was on par with Beethoven's Ninth) that even a barely competent performance will sound beautiful. Needless to say, though, Atlanta's performance here is far better than "barely competent." And while there are a couple of spots where Spano makes slightly unusual performance choices, the beauty of these works is never obscured. That said, my main reason for buying this CD was not the orchestral works; I already have four or five copies of each. Rather, it was the choral tracks that open and close the disc.

The opening track is actually a performance of the "Theme by Thomas Tallis" quoted by Vaughan Williams in the Fantasia, performed by 20 members of the Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus. (Kudos to Telarc, by the way, for actually listing all the members of the orchestra and chorus.) Surprisingly, given the relative simplicity of the piece, this is the first CD I know of that includes both the Fantasia and the original theme.

The closing track contains what is--by comparison to the other Vaughan Williams works--a relative rarity, the "Serenade to Music." This piece, perhaps even more beautiful than the Fantasia and Symphony, is a setting of a scene from Act V of "The Merchant of Venice." Originally written for 16 soloists, Vaughan Williams reworked it (slightly) so that it could be performed by a four-part chorus with soloists--and that is the version here, featuring the full Chamber Chorus of about 80 members.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 13, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Amazon.com Editorial Reviews here are absolutely on the mark altogether. The most recorded orchestra in America again proves its world class with these Grammy nominated performances. Vaughan Williams' mastery of choral craftsmanship is without peer. Mackenzie's ASO Chamber Chorus mellifluously and precisely nails it perfectly in every aspect along with top notch guest soloists. This is an album of sweet, pure, unrestrained expressions of the human spirit. Prepare to be transported to the heavens.
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