VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Symphony No.9 in E minor and Job

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Job (A Masque for Dancing), Symphony No.9 in E minor
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra,  Sir Andrew Davis

Chandos SACD CHSA5180 @ £12.25*

The cumulative effect is of immense and implacable power, astonishing from a composer in his mid-eighties. In both works the recorded orchestral sound is gorgeously warn, detailed and naturally balanced.” BBC Music Magazine, CD of the Month, April 2017

“Davis today has no peers in this repertoire, which, added to Chandos’s brilliantly “present” sound engineering, makes this a self-recommending issue.

Other than Adrian Boult – to whom the score was dedicated in 1934, four years after its premiere — no conductor has championed VW’s Masque for Dancing as assiduously as Davis. This is his second recording — the first was with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for Teldec/Warner — and is likewise coupled with the last of the composer’s nine symphonies, completed a year before his death. This 44-minute ballet score, rarely danced, is prized by Vaughan Williamsians, but it’s unusual to find it in the repertoire of a non-British orchestra, at any rate on disc. The versatile Bergen band clearly revel in the expansive, unmistakably “English” tunes and the sometimes exotic orchestration: the rattle of the side drums and peremptory brass fanfares in Satan’s Dance of Triumph, and the prominent saxophone solos that link Job to the later E minor symphony, with its three saxes and flugelhorn — a reminiscence of sounds heard on an Austrian holiday, even though this symphony is inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. Davis today has no peers in this repertoire, which, added to Chandos’s brilliantly “present” sound engineering, makes this a self-recommending issue.”The Sunday Times, CD of the Week, 19 March

“…a searing performance of the enigmatic ninth symphony…Even better, though, is Job: a tremendous, Blake-inspired score whose challenges are triumphantly met here. It is one of Vaughan Williams’ most dramatic works and the sheer power of the Bergen forces (that organ!) contrast perfectly with sections of great textual beauty. Superb SACD sound…” Classical Music Magazine, April 2017

Chandos SACD CHSA5180 @ £12.25*

BBC Radio 3, Record Review, CD of the Week, (4 February 2017)
“a performance of striking composure, lustre and palpable dedication. Not only do the Bergen Philharmonic respond with notable poise and eagerness (solo contributions are of the highest quality throughout), Davis conducts with unobtrusive authority as well as a sure hand on the structural tiller, uncovering a wealth of telling harmonic and textural detail along the way.” Gramophone Editor’s Choice, March 2017

The projected complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies started by the late Richard Hickox has left a precious heritage in the discography of the composer. Now, conducting the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, that other expert in British repertoire, Sir Andrew Davis, takes on the challenge of completing the series with idiomatic interpretations of two masterpieces: the final Symphony (No. 9) and the ballet Job.

The subtle direction of Sir Andrew Davis combined with the pure sound quality of this SACD does full justice to Hickox’s great enterprise and promises a powerful conclusion of this already acclaimed recorded cycle.

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