Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Toward the Unknown Region; Serenade to Music; The Wasps Overture

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Toward the Unknown Region; Serenade to Music; The Wasps Overture

by John Barbirolli


Item is available through our marketplace sellers.


Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Toward the Unknown Region; Serenade to Music; The Wasps Overture

Back again, it's John Barbirolli's classic 1962 recording of Vaughan Williams' "Fifth" Symphony. This time, however, it's not alone as it was on LPs in the sixties and seventies or coupled with Barbirolli's equally ecstatic 1965 recording of Arnold Bax's Tintagel as it was on its initial CD release in the eighties and nineties, but rather joined by a goodly portion of the English modernist master's shorter orchestral works recorded by Malcolm Sargent in 1957. Since the mastering is exactly the same as the previous digital reissue, the sound and performance are exactly the same, too, meaning that the sound is glowing and the performance is rapturous. Barbirolli's love for the music is obvious, his understanding of the score is complete, and his ability to draw glorious playing from the Philharmonia is nonpareil. For him, the London strings are sweeter, the woodwinds warmer, the brass mellower, and their blend almost supernaturally radiant. With flowing tempos and luminous textures, Barbirolli creates an exquisite reading of the "Fifth" that every enthusiast of English orchestral music ought to hear. The question is what context to hear it in. While more Vaughan Williams is always better, Sargent's Vaughan Williams is only so-so. His "Wasps Overture" has plenty of sting and his "Serenade to Music" has sufficient lyricism, but he never quite makes the music take wing and sing. The London Symphony Orchestra plays with professional polish, but seems uninspired by either the man on the podium or the music on the stands. On the other hand, Barbirolli's passionate "Tintagel" on the earlier CD release is one of the most compelling of all Bax recordings, and though Bax is indubitably no Vaughan Williams, Sargent is undeniably no Barbirolli, and the slightly cramped 1957 sound is no match for the lush 1965 sound. In the final analysis, then, the earlier reissue remains the CD release to beat.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/22/2008
Label: Warner Classics
UPC: 5099921615122
catalogNumber: 16151


  1. The Wasps, incidental music for tenor, baritone, male chorus & orchestra: Overture  - Ralph Vaughan Williams  -  London Symphony Orchestra  - Malcolm Sargent
  2. Serenade to Music ("How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!") for 16 soloists (or soloists & chorus) & orchestra  - Ralph Vaughan Williams  - William Shakespeare  - Peter Gellhorn  -  London Symphony Orchestra  - Elsie Morison  - Duncan Robertson  - Malcolm Sargent  - Marjorie Thomas  - Trevor Anthony
  3. Fantasia on Greensleeves, for harp, flute & strings (arranged by R. Greaves; from the opera "Sir John In Love")  - Ralph Vaughan Williams  - Ralph Greaves  -  London Symphony Orchestra  - Malcolm Sargent
  4. Toward the Unknown Region, for chorus & orchestra  - Ralph Vaughan Williams  - Peter Gellhorn  -  London Symphony Orchestra  - Malcolm Sargent  -  Walt Whitman
  5. Symphony No. 5 in D major  - Ralph Vaughan Williams  -  New Philharmonia Orchestra

Album Credits

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews