Symphony No. 6
William Metcalf (ten)
University of Utah Civic Chorale
Utah SO/Maurice Abravanel
Symphony recorded 1966 University of Utah
Dona recorded 1966 Mormon Tabernacle, Salt
VANGUARD CLASSICS SVC7 [72.30]
It was this version of Dona Nobis Pacem (not Boult's on EMI) by which
I came to know the cantata. The LP (VSD71159) had Flos Campi as its
In neither work does Abravanel sell us short although I prefer the overwhelming
version of the Symphony grimly conducted by Paavo Berglund with the Bournemouth
SO and the dynamism of Handley's Eminence recording. Still and all both
recordings are estimable events.
Dona Nobis Pacem is distant from the Victorian choral tradition although
its rugged explosive power might be heard as if written under the shadow
of Verdi's Requiem. As in many of RVW's choral works (e.g. Hodie)
the words are anthologised from various sources. He draws on his favourite
Whitman as well as the Bible. The music swells into the superbly resonant
acoustic of the Tabernacle. The Whitman recalls Holst's stately sorrow in
Dirge for Two Veterans. The Vaughan Williams was premiered by Albert
Coates two years after Holst's death in 1934. RVW's Dirge is the processional
heart of the work. Metcalf is mournful of tone but generally good as in his
chilling 'you may almost hear the beating of his wings' in track 9. The chorus
is superb as is Christensen who in her great 'Dona's points forward to the
composer's Three Vocalises from the very end of the composer's life. Going
by the Hanson recording of Song of Democracy Utah has a fine vocal
tradition which I hope continues to this day.
Given the artistic strengths of both performances it is a matter of regret
that there are some editing 'bumps' and blips in Dona: Track 5 2.13, 3.16.
Track 7: 0.53, 1.15, 3.06.
Helpfully supportive notes by Sidney Finkelstein and full texts for the choral
A good bargain coupling of one work seemingly predictive of the War and another
(and of course I speculate) influenced by the guilt and psychological impact