The Best of Vaughan Williams

The Best of Vaughan Williams


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The Best of Vaughan Williams

Devotees of the composer might argue that a collection called The Best of Ralph Vaughan Williams ought to be at least a 30-disc set containing all his symphonies, operas, and oratorios, plus a large selection of his songs, concertos, and other orchestral works. But since a large part of the purpose of a best-of collection is to introduce listeners unfamiliar with the composer to sample his work, a single-disc selection is probably more effective. For this purpose, the A&R department at Naxos has assembled 10 tracks for this best-of the great English modernist. Some of the selections were inevitable: how could the "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis," the "Fantasias on Greensleeves," and, of course, "The Lark Ascending" not be included? Others are more unlikely: is the "Prelude" to the film 49th Parallel really one of Vaughan Williams' best pieces? But on the whole, this collection lives up to its name and will serve to introduce listeners to the composer. The performances themselves are a mixed lot. Some, like baritone Roderick Williams' account of "Linden Lea" and tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson's of "Silent Noon," are among the finest ever recorded, while others, including most of the orchestral recordings, are good enough as far as they go but they cannot compare with the great recordings of these works by Boult and Barbirolli. Still, the sound here is clear and clean, the selection is fair and wide, and the result is an engaging introduction to one of the twentieth century's best-loved composers.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/24/2008
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0730099683524
catalogNumber: 8556835


  1. 49th Parallel, film score (The Invaders): Prelude
  2. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, for 2 string orchestras
  3. Linden Lea, song for voice & orchestra ("In Linden Lea;" "A Dorset Song")
  4. Symphony No. 2 in G major ("A London Symphony"): 1. Lento - Allegro risoluto
  5. The Wasps, Aristophanic Suite, for orchestra from the incidental music: Overture
  6. Silent Noon ("Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass"), song for voice & piano (The House of Life No. 2)
  7. Variants (5) of 'Dives and Lazarus' for string orchestra & harp (or harps)
  8. Symphony No. 1 for soprano, baritone, chorus & orchestra ("A Sea Symphony"): 2. On the Beach at Night, alone
  9. Fantasia on Greensleeves, for harp, flute & strings (arranged by R. Greaves; from the opera "Sir John In Love")
  10. The Lark Ascending, romance for violin & orchestra

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