British conductor Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra have released an exciting new CD featuring music of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). The disk includes A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) and Serenade to Music, performed by RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde and singers from Mercury Opera Rochester. Music director of the RPO for 13 years, currently Seaman holds the title of Conductor Laureate.
Written in 1914, A London Symphony musically captures the varied moods of London from its dense fog to the chimes of Big Ben along the River Thames. The music is lushly atmospheric and this recording brings out a rich tapestry of orchestral color. Vaughan Williams draws on English folk music throughout.
Here are what some critics have said about the CD:
(A) fine recording of an English classic. It is rich in accuracy of detail and felicity of mood throughout. The majesty of the finale (of the symphony) is as impressive as I have ever heard. -Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
A wonderfully atmospheric account of VW’s London portrait … (Seaman) finds rapture and vitality in the symphony’s impressionist tableaux.—Andrew Clark, Financial Times (UK)
They (the RPO) seem to have an instinctive feel and affection for Vaughan Williams’s language. —Andrew McGregor, CD Review (BBC Radio 3)
The fruitful partnership here of British conductor Christopher Seaman and his American orchestra (after 13 years as music director Seaman is now Rochester Philharmonic’s conductor laureate) offers much gleam, warmth and vitality.—Fiona Maddocks, Guardian (UK)
Seaman emphasizes drama, contrast, luster: the quick refrain pings, the marches are stirring, the forte is forte.—Deanne Sole, popmatters.com
The playing from every section of the ensemble is first rate … always controlled and defined, but with plenty of punch too.—Gavin Dixon, classical-cd-reviews.com
I highly recommend this recording. Start listening now and I’ll have a few more thoughts about A London Symphony in a future post.