MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
CD 1 [74:54]
The Wasps - Overture (1909) [8:26]
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1938) [16:35]
Oboe Concerto in A minor (1934) [18:14]
Symphony No. 4 in F minor (1907) [31:10]
CD 2 [76:01]
Symphony No. 5 in D (1943) [39:28]
Symphony No. 6 in E minor (1943) [36:27]
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Constantin Silvestri (Wasps; Tallis)
Gerald Jarvis (violin); Robert Growcott (violin); Cedric Morgan (viola); Alan Turner (cello) (Tallis); John Williams (oboe); Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Berglund (Oboe; 6); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Alexander Gibson (5). Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/ Paavo Berglund (4).
rec. Winchester Cathedral, 5 (Tallis), 6 (Wasps) September 1967; No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, 30 December 1974 (Oboe); No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, 29-30 October 1979 (4); No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, 25-26 May 1982 (5); Kingsway Hall, London, 17-18 June 1974 (6). ADD/DDD
EMI CLASSICS BRITISH COMPOSERS 2161462 [74:54 + 76:01]


Experience Classicsonline

A welcome reissue of classic analogue recordings from EMI’s formidable RVW back catalogue. Long unavailable, these are for the most part admirable performances and several can stand comparison with the best of their competitors.

The Finn Paavo Berglund has the lion’s share of the work here, either with his own Bournemouth Symphony or with the RPO. Berglund will be remembered by collectors for his productive relationship on and off the record with the Bournemouth orchestra; although probably best known for his Sibelius recordings his repertoire also encompassed Shostakovich, Walton, Bliss, Britten and Nielsen. His VW Fourth from 1979 with the RPO is exhilarating, perhaps taking a lead from the composer’s own 1937 recording with its dynamically fast speeds. The excellent Abbey Road sound allows for clarity of articulation for the faster string passages together with crushing weight in the big climaxes. Berglund obtains passionate string playing in the first movement - although Slatkin’s Philharmonia is, if anything, more involved still - and an anxious, uneasy coda. With a cool, measured second movement and an energetic scherzo building to an ebullient account of the finale this is a classic performance in which the music’s inherent humorous aspects are emphasised more than usual.

Berglund’s 1974 Sixth with the Bournemouth Symphony was recorded in the weightier acoustic of Kingsway Hall. This lends extra gravity to a performance which seems to favour power over agility, particularly in the opening Allegro. Pairing this symphony on disc with its F minor counterpart emphasises the similarities in style between the two works. There is also a contrast here between Berglund’s powerful, energetic account of the earlier work and his rather hefty approach to the Sixth. Despite this he builds tension well throughout the opening movement and the return of the second theme in its lyrical transformation is memorably done. Berglund steers a relentless course through the repeated triplet figuration of the second movement, and the climax when it comes is pretty shattering. Much of the tension generated is dispersed in the hell-for-leather account of the scherzo, taken at quite a lick. The final Epilogue is, in the last analysis, disappointing; the recording does not allow a true pianissimo and there is a lack of tension in the playing, for all the care that Berglund takes to clarify the strands. Berglund also conducts a fine performance of the Oboe Concerto, which was the original LP pairing for the Sixth Symphony. John Williams steers an able course between the work’s pastoral meanderings and more lyrical passages.

Berglund’s predecessor in Bournemouth was the Romanian Constantin Silvestri, whose classic accounts of The Wasps Overture and Tallis Fantasia open the first disc. With the rich acoustic of Winchester Cathedral adding its own contribution to the quality of the performances, these are memorable accounts. However, they have been issued on CD before - The Tallis Fantasia most recently on the RVW anniversary box from EMI - so it would have been interesting to hear, for instance, Berglund’s account of The Lark Ascending with the RPO and Barry Griffiths, which was the original LP coupling for the Fourth.

Finally, Sir Alexander Gibson’s early digital Fifth, although boasting excellent sound, fails to convey the work’s essential rapture. There is a lack of mystery in the opening Preludio, and the modulation to E major for the second subject, which can have a glorious sense of release, is here rather matter-of-fact.  The performance improves as it progresses, however, and Gibson handles the hobgoblins and foul fiends of the scherzo well enough. The Romanza is well done, although a greater sense of forward momentum would not have gone amiss. Although the string playing is luminous, the brass and woodwind chords towards the climax of the movement are untidy. The final Passacaglia sets out a rather meandering course; it needs to sound far more purposeful than here. Given the work’s Bunyan-derived inspiration, this Pilgrim would have turned back at the first hurdle! Gibson draws together the strands effectively at the conclusion and the closing string passages are beautifully done.

On the whole then, a worthwhile collection, containing something of a mixed bag of performances; Berglund’s Fourth and Silvestri’s Tallis are on the highest level, and if the performances of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies do not always reach this plane it’s good to have them restored to the catalogue.

Ewan McCormick

see also Review by Rob Barnett



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.