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Posted October 1, 2010
Expressive, delicate and profoundly peaceful, this is the quintessential English pastoral music played by the quintessential British chamber orchestra. Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields are the perfect performers of these four works by Ralph Vaughan Williams: ¿Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis¿, ¿Fantasia on Greensleeves¿, ¿The Lark Ascending¿ and ¿Five Variants of `Dives and Lazarus¿¿. Sweet violin solos, quiet flutes and strings, and wistful reeds evoke images of a quaint, simple countryside that perhaps never was. But this music makes it real, painting a sound picture of tranquil, natural beauty without the worldly intrusions of back-breaking physical labor, high taxes and harsh overlords that English farmers of yore would doubtless have had to contend with. Vaughan Williams (b. 1872, d.1958), a collector of folk songs and arranger of Renaissance tunes, waxes nostalgic with these graceful, dignified and superbly subtle compositions, and you will too upon hearing them. Put this recording on at the end of a stressful day, look at something green and alive, and just feel the tension melt away. Vaughan Williams created many intriguing soundscapes, but these four selections have always been my personal favorites.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.