Following hot on the heels of Richard Hickox's superb Chandos recording of
the Tudor Portraits, this Hyperion reissue is an incredible bargain at this
low Helios price. There is no lessening in the quality we expect from this
superb label with a stunning cover picture and copious notes that befit the
status of a full-price release. 'The Tunning of Eleanor Rumming' is suitably
boisterous and riveting with some bold choral contributions from the Guildford
Society. Davan Wetton sets a measured tempo, thus bringing out greater clarity
and precision from the music.
Although short and concise, 'Pretty Bess' and 'Epitaph on John Jayberd of
Diss' are marvelously buoyant in Davan Wetton's hands and Sarah Walker is
indeed quite disarming in both numbers. The monumental setting of 'Jane Scroop'
could be slightly more robust although the torpid nature of Vaughan Williams'
inspiration is admirably captured by the Hyperion recording. 'Jolly Rutterkin'
brings the suite to a swift end and all is concluded with rapt spirituality
and immense character.
The 'Five Mystical Songs' preface the suite and here the sensitively drooling
voice of Henry Herford reminds one of the vocal lines for baritone in the
contemporaneous 'Sea Symphony'. This work reveals Vaughan Williams' supreme
gift of writing for voices and orchestra and the effects of the solo voice
blended with chorus are quite magically enshrined in this particular partnership.
'Love bade me welcome' is the finest piece in this five-movement suite and
here it comes alive with particular buoyancy and delight. Throughout the
works, the Philharmonia play with committed dedication and fascinating alertness
that benefits the music with alacrity and aplomb.
Altogether, this sumptuously remastered issue is definitely one of the highlights
of the first batch of Helios reissues that promise to take a fair share of
the market both for artistic and commercial merit.