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Which Vaughan Williams Cycle?

  • Boult I (1952-1958)

    Votes: 5 17.2%
  • Boult II (1968-1972)

    Votes: 3 10.3%
  • Previn (1968-1972)

    Votes: 4 13.8%
  • Rozhdestvensky (1988-1989)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Thompson (1987-1990)

    Votes: 2 6.9%
  • Slatkin (1990-1992)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Handley (1986-1993)

    Votes: 8 27.6%
  • Davis (1990-1996)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Haitink (1984-2000)

    Votes: 5 17.2%
  • Bakels/Daniels (1992-2003)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Hickox* (1997-2006*/2017)

    Votes: 1 3.4%
  • Elder (2010-201?)

    Votes: 1 3.4%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am really trying to get into the symphonies of Vaughan Williams, and the cycles above are the ones that I have heard of. Which one of the cycles above would you recommend?
 

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My Vaughan Williams symphony collection is patchwork: Adrian Boult #1, 7, 8 & 9; Slatkin #3, 4 & 5; Previn: 1,2 & 7 ; Barbirolli: 2 (excellent rec!); Bernstein: 4 (?). I think that's it.

If I had to buy a box set, it would probably be Boult because he seems to have the best feeling and balance for RVW.
 

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I clicked on Handley, thinking I'll be pretty much alone...but whadda ya know? It is a terrific set. The conducting, playing, and recorded sound are all excellent. There's not a dud in the set.

But the Slatkin is really excellent, too. And at the RCA budget box price hard to beat. And Andrew Davis on Warner is excellent. I have too many RVW sets in my library, and frankly they're all good. The music is rare enough that only a really dedicated conductor who has a feel for the music is going to take it up. I can understand why some of them aren't performed in concert more often, but at least in the USA, they have pretty much disappeared.
 

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Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Myaskovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bruckner, Massenet, Schumann, Wagner, Strauss, Bax.
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Don't forget Brabbins' ongoing cycle with the BBC Symphony under Hyperion (2017-).
Pretty impressive thus far.

That said, I picked Thomson (Chandos).
 
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Boult 1 for me, but it was only after knowing the music better. I was convinced you can't do better than Handley, which has way better sound, probably better orchestral playing, and the interpretation is good too.
 

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I have owned many sets of Vaughan Williams symphonies and can't say I enjoyed it. This because the Symphonies 1, 2, 8 and 9 are not very enjoyable for me, making buying a set a poor investment. However, of those I have owned (both Boult, Previn, Slatkin, Haitink, Handley and Thomson (not Thompson as misspelled above), the latter by Bryden Thomson is clearly my favorite.

It has the best sound and he does something with the Symphony 5 no one else seems to know: makes it just as tense as Nos. 4 and 6 that surround it. Most people think Symphony 5 is a walk in the woods, a nice sunny day outdoors. In my opinion that is misplaced; I believe it is just as tense and nervous as the two more outgoing symphonies on either side of it. Thomson is the only conductor I know that undestands that.
 

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If I was pressured into voting a single set then it would be Handley, however my personal 'set' is...

1 - Elder / Halle (Handley / RLPO is a close second)
2 - (1913 vers.) Hickox / LSO
3 - Previn / LSO
4 - Berglund / RPO
5 - Handley / RLPO
6 - Barbirolli / BRSO
7 - Handley / RLPO
8 - Barbirolli / Halle
9 - A. Davis / Bergen

About standard (1933/6) version of the 2nd which I rarely listen to, maybe a tossup between Barbirolli & Handley
 

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I don't spend too much time with the RVW symphonies, but Previn and Boult have historically been my picks nine times out of ten. Now I'm thinking I might need to try this Handley set, he wasn't even on my radar. Thanks for the recommendations.
 

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There's no p in Thomson. I like his No.6. Bakels for 7 & 8. Boult for the rest.
 

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I own the Haitink and it is superbly played and recorded - a good modern version. I also own the early Boult which is unbeatable but for the sound of course.
however, RVW has been very lucky on record and there are excellent cycles from Previn, Handley and Hickox. The later Boult hasn’t quite the fire of the earlier one but still very good.
 

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I own the Haitink and it is superbly played and recorded - a good modern version. I also own the early Boult which is unbeatable but for the sound of course.
however, RVW has been very lucky on record and there are excellent cycles from Previn, Handley and Hickox. The later Boult hasn’t quite the fire of the earlier one but still very good.
Except that Richard Hickox died before finishing his cycle. More recently Chandos has released recordings by Andrew Davis to 'complete' the cycle.
 

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Not a big fan of RVW, but I did read somewhere that Haintink was the 1st (only?) Conductor to take RVW symphonies out of the English realm and onto a European interpretation. Hearing RVW as a European composer as opposed to English. 'Tea Vicar?'
That is a total misrepresentation as other conductors outside of Britain have conducted RVW. There are recordings by Previn (German), Bernstein (American), Metropolous (Greek), Rozhdestvensky
(Russian), Bekels (Dutch) as well as Stoki (a bit cosmopolitan).
 
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