London in music

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

  • Symphony No. 2 A London Symphony


  • Concerto in A minor for oboe and strings

Performed by:

  • Stéphane Rancourt (oboe)
  • Hallé Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder
This CD is a wonderful  depiction of London, as a pulsating and multi-faceted metropolis. The main  images are of a  London cloaked in fog and shrouded in river mist. The manner is very much in keeping with the work of French impressionists painter Claude Monet. Especially impressive is the sure sense of the music’s structure, bringing out qualities of warmth and lyricism the performance sounds very fresh and natural.
Following the moving  opening of the slow movement the passage for the single trumpet and horn playing over the strings is amazing .
Vaughan Williams certainly makes full use of his glorious dance-like melodies in this work. The Finale contains music of great nobility and substance. It opens with a plaintive cry of anguish. The power and intensity of the climaxes is remarkable.
In their principal oboist, Stéphane Rancourt, the Hallé Orchestra have one of the finest instrumentalists I have heard. The pastoral nature of this lovely three movement concerto seems tailor-made for this talented soloist who plays almost continuously supported by the excellent  Hallé strings.
Weighted with sorrow and regret, this could easily be a lament for those lost in the terrible world war that was still raging at the time this concerto was composed. At the conclusion the music looks back to the geniality of the opening bars. Showing his capabilities, Rancourt gives a masterly performance of this great  score.
Rancourt’s fluency and breadth of expression is remarkable. Sounding more reedy than creamy, the tone of the instrument as caught here, feels perfect.

 Here is the Ralph Vaughan Williams – Oboe Concerto (1st Movement – Rondo Pastorale)



And here is Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony: II Lento



Tags: Ralph Vaughan Williams, London Symphony, Oboe Concerto

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