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Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 2 / Christopher Seaman, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

Album Summary

>Vaughan Williams, Ralph : A London Symphony (Symphony no 2) (Original 1913 version)
>Vaughan Williams, Ralph : Serenade to music
Performer Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

To mark the close of an outstanding thirteen-season tenure as Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic, Christopher Seaman leads his orchestra in a program of music which he holds especially dear: Vaughan Williams' A London Symphony and the Serenade to Music, the latter with violinist Juliana Athayde and singers from Mercury Opera Rochester. A London Symphony, the second symphony composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, was first performed in 1914. The composer said that while the title may suggest a programmatic piece, it was intended to be heard as absolute music. Henry Wood commissioned Vaughan Williams to compose the Serenade to Music to be premiered at a concert marking Wood's 50th anniversary on the podium. Vaughan Williams dedicated it to Sir Henry, "in grateful recognition of his services to music." This recording presents it in its original form - for violin solo, sixteen solo singers and orchestra, as Wood requested.

"The British conductor Christopher Seaman has been at the helm of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for the past thirteen seasons and the fine individual and collective playing of the orchestra evinced on this recording are a testament to what he has achieved during his tenure with them... The symphony's opening section, suggesting the city coming to life after dawn breaks, is beautifully conveyed by Seaman and his orchestra, while thanks to the superb recording the lower strings are reproduced with excellent clarity. The movement's main 'Allegro risoluto' is delivered incisively and with terrific punch. The 'Lento' that follows is notable for supremely beautiful playing from the muted strings and sensitive solos from the orchestra's cor anglais, horn and viola principals. Seaman allows the impassioned melody at the centre of this movement to make its full emotional impact while still maintaining a forward moving tempo. A combination of delicacy and vitality characterize the nocturnal 'Scherzo', whilst the finale is notable for the power and grandeur of the Rochester brass... The disc is completed by 'The Serenade to Music' - one of the loveliest works that Vaughan Williams ever composed. Sixteen singers from Mercury Opera Rochester give a most creditable account of the original version of the score and, as in the symphony, the orchestral playing is supremely beautiful. Harmonia Mundi's presentation is excellent... Highly recommended - a recording not to be missed!" -SA-CD.net

The Observer
The fruitful partnership here of British conductor Christopher Seaman and his American orchestra (after 13 years as music director Seaman is now Rochester Philharmonic's conductor laureate) offers much gleam, warmth and vitality, if not always the greatest subtlety.

International Record Review
[The London Symphony shows] careful attention to detail, rhythmic energy, scrupulous balance and a fine ear for the inner life of the more animated music and real poetry in inward-looking passages...The Serenade to Music is also most sensitively done...the whole performance is conveyed with enormous affection...Serious Vaughan Williams collectors will surely want to hear this admirable new recording.

American Record Guide, July / August 2012
Harmonia Mundi's recording is warm, blended, and "concert hall" realistic, if just a little boxy. That last quality reminds me a little of the sound Mercury produced in this hall, though those recordings were a lot more punchy and brilliant.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Kodak Hall, Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York (03/2011).


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Works Details

>Vaughan Williams, Ralph : A London Symphony (Symphony no 2) (Original 1913 version)
  • Conductor: Christopher Seaman
  • Ensemble: Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 42 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1911-1913

>Vaughan Williams, Ralph : Serenade to music
  • Performer: Juliana Athayde (Violin)
  • Conductor: Christopher Seaman
  • Running Time: 12 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1939