Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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


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 cpo reviews

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

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



Buy through MusicWeb
for £11 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Symphony No. 2 A London Symphony (1913 rev. 1936) [46:33]
Concerto in A minor for oboe and strings (1942/43) [19:20]
Stéphane Rancourt (oboe)
Hallé Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder
rec. 14 October 2010 (symphony), 23 June 2010 (concerto), Bridgewater Hall (symphony), Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, (concerto) Manchester, England
HALLÉ CD HLL 7529 [65:56]

Experience Classicsonline

Now in his twelfth season as musical director Sir Mark has had great success in building the Hallé’s international reputation. They go from strength to strength as demonstrated by the 2010 Gramophone Awards where they scooped both the Opera and Concerto categories with their live Götterdämmerung and Elgar Violin Concerto with soloist Thomas Zehetmair. At the time of writing another dual success has been announced in the 2011 Gramophone Awards for Elder conducting Elgar’s The Kingdom in the Choral category and Ryan Wigglesworth directing Harrison Birtwistle’s music in the Contemporary section.
Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony is much loved by Sir Mark. It’s a score that has become something of a party-piece for him. Last season I had the good fortune to attend two of his Hallé performances. The first took place in October 2010 at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and a recording of that concert is presented here. The second, given in Kendal, Cumbria in February 2011, was equally fine.
It’s a much revised score. Today we normally hear a version with cuts from the original 1913 score. In the 2001 Gramophone Awards the late Richard Hickox won the Record of the Year for his recording of the London Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra on Chandos CHAN 9902. That remains a wonderful recording that I doubt will be surpassed. It boasts the added interest of using the composer’s original 1913 version, restoring the cuts and including some 20 minutes of previously unrecorded music.
Elder proves an inspirational guide in the London Symphony and the Hallé respond to his direction with enthusiasm and assurance. This is a gloriously convincing depiction of a pulsating and multi-faceted metropolis. The predominant images are of a post-Edwardian London cloaked in fog and shrouded in river mist. The manner is very much in keeping with the work of French impressionists Claude Monet and the Manchester scenes of Adolphe Valette. Especially impressive is the sure sense of the music’s structure. Confidently bringing out qualities of warmth and lyricism the performance sounded so fresh and natural. I loved the swinging, forward momentum with tempo changes evincing an unforced fluidity and the sound shaped quite marvellously. Some of the playing in the opening movement made the hairs stand up on the back of the neck, such was the intensity of the emotions conveyed. Following the ethereal opening of the slow movement the passage for the single trumpet and horn playing over the strings is remarkable. Said to evoke Bloomsbury Square, this atmospheric music depicts bleak Fen country on a grey and misty, autumn morning. From its rather buttoned-up opening the Scherzo gains in confidence and becomes more daring. Vaughan Williams certainly makes full use of his glorious dance-like melodies. The Finale contains music of great nobility and substance. It opens with a plaintive cry of anguish. The power and intensity of the climaxes is remarkable. I enjoyed the expressive passage that evoked the heady sights, sounds and colours of the crowded London streets from the perspective of Westminster Bridge and The Strand. After the ‘Westminster chimes’ the Epilogue, veiled in fog and river mist, speaks of mystery and ambiguity before fading to nothing. I recall how the Bridgewater Hall audience enthusiastically acknowledged this towering performance.

The Oboe Concerto is a later work, composed and revised in 1942/43. The score bears a dedication to Léon Goossens who gave the première with the Liverpool Philharmonic under Malcolm Sargent in 1944. In their principal oboist Stéphane Rancourt the Hallé have one of the finest exponents I have heard. He is certainly up there with Albrecht Mayer of the Berlin Philharmonic. Countless times at concerts I have heard Rancourt’s glorious tone radiating out - a great joy. The pastoral nature of this engaging three movement score seems tailor-made for this talented soloist who plays almost continuously supported by the glowing Hallé strings. Right from the opening the pastoral leanings of the music are evident evoking a near elysian spirit. Full of vitality the jaunty central section has great appeal. Open air freshness pervades the very brief Minuet and Musette revealing a quite delightful if restive quality. The splendid Finale opens in a good-natured manner. A darker temperament then becomes evident followed by a strong melancholic heave. Weighted with sorrow and regret this could easily be a lament for those lost in the terrible world war that was still raging. At the conclusion the music looks back to the geniality of the opening bars. Showing his mettle Rancourt gives a masterly performance of this predominantly genial score. Tempered with an inner tranquillity and calm introspection the writing at times discloses a shadowy undercurrent. Rancourt’s fluency and breadth of expression is remarkable. Sounding more reedy than creamy, the tone of the instrument as caught here, feels perfect.
Eschewing flamboyance and histrionics Sir Mark exudes assurance and a calm authority founded on immaculate preparation. The palette of colours is highly impressive. Especially noticeable is the silky smooth timbre of the strings; clear and radiant and not dominated from below by the cello and double basses. The expressive and responsive woodwind section is out of the top drawer and the outstandingly toned brass manage their volume sensibly.
Recorded four months apart the sound quality of both performances is excellent, being vividly clear and well balanced. Vaughan Williams authority Michael Kennedy, who was in the audience, wrote the booklet essay which is as informative and lucid as we have come to expect.
This is certainly a stunning live disc from Sir Mark and the Hallé and will garner significant praise.
Michael Cookson



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

Pat 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

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.