Vaughan Williams: Symphony No 5; Tallis Fantasia; The Running Set (all arranged for two pianos)

Reviewed on Tue 14 Feb, 2017

The jaunty and rustic Running Set is more Grainger than VW here, enjoyably so, played with foot-tapping gusto.

How well do the long lines of the contemplative Fifth Symphony and the ecstatic string-orchestra Tallis Fantasia stand up to two-piano arrangement, made, so to speak, by various hands? Quite well, partly due to the superb artistry of Caroline Clemmow and the recently late Anthony Goldstone; yet pianos seem to slow the pace even though the Fifth’s movement-timings are quite swift, and, of course, the Symphony’s darkly luminous scoring is sacrificed, although at times, there are illuminations. The music still retains in greatness, however, and its power to move in this well-made and dynamic recording. The jaunty and rustic Running Set is more Grainger than VW here, enjoyably so, played with foot-tapping gusto; and if Tallis Fantasia doesn’t quite survive the silent-movie tremolos and the exchanges between the two orchestras, and the string quartet, cannot be replicated, then dignity and solemnity are present to complete a release that’s worthy of curiosity.
–Colin Anderson