Friday, 21 January 2011

Ralph Vaughan Williams: From his attic!

The other day I bought a copy of Dutton Recordings “From Vaughan Williams Attic” [CDBP9790] There are two very good reasons for my investment in this disc – the RVW-conducted performance of the ballet Old King Cole and the 1937 ‘A Flourish for the Coronation.’ The former piece I have known for many years, having first discovered it on an old Decca Eclipse recording of the Fourth Symphony. However, the latter work was new to me. I have had the vocal score of the work for many years – but somehow there has never been (to my knowledge) a recording of this work available to me.
Other works on this CD include the Overture from the incidental music to Aristophanes The Wasps, An early recording of Serenade to Music with the original soloists, orchestra and Sir Thomas Beecham at the helm. The final two works presented on this CD are the wartime ‘Thanksgiving for Victory (actually recorded some months before that victory was fact) and finally extracts from the film score to Scott of the Antarctic.

One word of caution – Rob Barnet notes on MusicWeb International that this CD is:-
‘Not quite as exciting as the title suggests. We can hope for real rarities but we are not going to get them. RVW was given many recordings of his own music but poor playing equipment and the ravages wrought by time, moves and poor damp storage has made much of this esoterica beyond commercial rescue. Sad! Instead we are treated here to tracks which have their own value and fascination but most of which have previously been issued by Pearl, Symposium or EMI. The exception [...] is the 13 minute Beecham-conducted A Flourish for a Coronation.’
However it is good to have a first foray into the RVW sound archives. One can only hope that there will be further exploration, in spite of the concerns about the less than ideal condition of the original records.

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