Richard Hickox, VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: London Symphony (A) / BUTTERWORTH: The Banks of Green Willow

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Gramophone’s 2001 Record of the Year.

To attend a Richard Hickox recording session is to see a consummate professional at work. He realises that in the studio, with an orchestra of 120 or so players, time is money. Yet he creates an atmosphere that produces music-making of an extraordinarily high level. This recording of Vaughan Williams's Second Symphony, "A London Symphony," is typical of his artistry. Not surprisingly, it swept through the Gramophone Awards, picking up the Orchestral Award on its way to being named Record of the Year. But this is no ordinary performance of VW's London Symphony; instead, it brings us his first thoughts on a work he subsequently revised into the 1936 version we always encounter. This 1914 version gives us more music, much of it of remarkable beauty and craftsmanship. The LSO, longtime musical partners of Hickox, play as if their lives depended on it — and Chandos capture it in sound of fabulous bloom and opulence.