Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony; Symphony No 8 in D minor

Reviewed on Thu 19 May, 2016

If you don't yet know RVW's A London Symphony and Eighth Symphony, these performances – by turns passionate, dramatic and clear-sighted –would make an ideal introduction.

On this well-filled disc containing two Vaughan Williams symphonies Andrew Manze directs the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic with loads of sympathy for the composer's world. I'm tempted to leave it at that because, if you don't know RVW's A London Symphony and Eighth Symphony, these performances – by turns passionate, dramatic and clear-sighted –would make an ideal introduction. The characteristics of both works are formidably presented, and Manze's unfussy and strong direction is just what is needed. We are blessed these days with performers of integrity giving us recordings that, as they used to say in the early days of LP, enables anyone to get to know music in the best way – that is, by repeated listening. As so often, the quality of the recording opens up the path for the listener. So, too, unlike in earlier days, performance-levels are so high, and the RLPO play so strongly, that, once again, we can focus on the actual music – itself sufficiently full of invention that even the late Pierre Boulez pronounced Vaughan Williams interesting!
–Ivor Solomons