BBC Legends – Sir Adrian Boult [Vaughan Williams, Bax, Hadley & Berg]

0 of 5 stars

Vaughan Williams
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Symphony No.6 in E minor
One Morning in Spring
Lyric Suite

New Philharmonia Orchestra [Vaughan Williams]
London Philharmonic Orchestra [Bax & Hadley]
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Adrian Boult

Vaughan Williams recorded 7 July 1972 in Cheltenham Town Hall; Bax and Hadley on 26 November 1969 in Barking Town Hall, London; Berg on 12 December 1966 in Maida Vale Studios, London

Reviewed by: Peter Joelson

Reviewed: May 2009
BBCL 4256-2
Duration: 75 minutes



senza crescendo and senza espressivo is entirely absorbing. Listeners may want to have a finger on the stop button to forgo applause, which might have usefully been edited out.

If the orchestra is recorded fairly close and the acoustic is on the dry side, the result is that all the details shine through, and Boult’s mastery of balance and wide and varied dynamics are there to hear clearly. The response of the New Philharmonia Orchestra (which had made the last of Boult’s studio versions of VW6 a few years earlier) is highly disciplined, with some wonderful playing from all sections.

The acoustic suits Tallis Fantasia rather less, but it is to Boult’s credit that the performance retains that ethereal timelessness which continues to captivate audiences. Two lollipops with the London Philharmonic follow. Patrick Hadley’s One Morning in Spring, a charming miniature, written for Vaughan Williams for his 70th-birthday, precedes Sir Arnold Bax’s Mediterranean with its southern warmth and humour.

The disc ends with a very fine performance of Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite, which started off as a six-movement work for string quartet written in 1925 to 1926 and inspired by his love for Hanna Fuchs-Robettin, though it is dedicated to Zemlinsky and quotes from his Lyric Symphony. Berg arranged three of the movements for string orchestra in 1928. Boult’s performance of this tightly written 12-tone work brings out the romantic and erotic aspects with all its beauty and drama. This recording serves as a fine reminder of Boult’s interest in cutting-edge contemporary music of his time.

Tony Faulkner’s re-mastering for this release is expert; particularly noteworthy is the excellent upper-string tone; few allowances need be made for the sound. Most importantly this release is a substantial addition to the selection of Sir Adrian’s live recordings and will be snapped up by his many admirers.

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