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Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony
     

Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony

by Robert Spano
 

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Vaughan Williams's "Sea" Symphony is less a symphony than a grand oratorio for chorus, soloists, and orchestra. A four-movement setting of poems by Walt Whitman, it's an opulent, sumptuous work of near-operatic reach -- qualities that are marvelously captured on this fine recording by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus.

Overview

Vaughan Williams's "Sea" Symphony is less a symphony than a grand oratorio for chorus, soloists, and orchestra. A four-movement setting of poems by Walt Whitman, it's an opulent, sumptuous work of near-operatic reach -- qualities that are marvelously captured on this fine recording by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus. Spano's high-energy conducting style seems ideal for such a large-scale, vivid score, and he navigates Williams's long-breathed phrases with the assurance of a weathered captain. He may not focus on the music's warmth and richness, but there is no lack of excitement to his performance; indeed, the musicians seem to embrace this music with just the right degree of buoyant enthusiasm. Listen to the clangorous brass fanfare at the outset, for instance, and the choral declamation, "Behold! The Sea!," which flows into a lush D Major evocation of the open ocean. Still, the second movement, titled "On the Beach at Night, Alone," achieves a wonderfully hushed tranquility. The chorus remains the first-class ensemble it was under its legendary former director, Robert Shaw, singing with estimable balance and diction, and the orchestra is in top shape, too, playing admirably for its new director. (This is Spano's second recording with Atlanta since taking over the podium there in 2001.) Soprano Christine Goerke is a superb soloist and is well matched by Brett Polegato, the baritone. Telarc's recording is spacious and sonorous, with plenty of depth to the sound, making for one ocean voyage that's certain not to leave you high and dry.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - David Mermelstein
Mr. Spano conducts purposefully, driving his orchestra to simulate the sea's raw power yet taking care not to overwhelm the singers. And though his interpretation is especially swift, his approach seems spacious. Brett Polegato, a baritone, and Christine Goerke, a soprano, make first-rate soloists, offering crisp diction, expressiveness and beauty of tone.
Gramophone - Andrew Achenbach
[Spano's] account of Vaughan Williams' mighty Sea Symphony is refined and vigorous, unusually propulsive and thrusting.
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Spano's recording of A Sea Symphony is exhilarating, charged with energy, enthusiasm and a youthful, almost reckless sense of daring.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/23/2002
Label:
Telarc
UPC:
0089408058820
catalogNumber:
80588
Rank:
93782

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 1 for soprano, baritone, chorus, & orchestra ("A Sea Symphony")

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