Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music; Oboe Concerto; Flos Campi; Piano Concerto

Reviewed on Mon 25 Jun, 2018

Teng Li’s tender, tentative viola and the Elmer Iseler Singers’ ethereal contributions mark out Flos Campi as one of the best currently on disc.

Peter Oundjian takes his leave of the Toronto Symphony after 14 years with a composer close to his heart, Vaughan Williams. There’s warmth aplenty in a glowing Serenade to Music, its quartet of young vocal soloists by turns sublime and ardent. No less heartfelt is the pastorally-infused Oboe Concerto, delivered with nuanced gracefulness by Sarah Jeffrey abetted by lithe, lyrical, feather-light accompaniment from the Toronto players. Teng Li’s tender, tentative viola and the Elmer Iseler Singers’ ethereal contributions mark out Flos Campi as one of the best currently on disc, the orchestra sinewy and serpentine in the Moderato alla Marcia, cossetingly subtle and soft in the transcendent finale, sensuous throughout. None of which prepares you for Louis Lortie’s blistering take on the Piano Concerto’s challenging outer movements (Oundjian at his most fervent in the closing passages) and poetic way with its core. Vivid sound and Stephen Connock’s exemplary booklet notes make this a must for lovers of English music.
–Michael Quinn