Andrew Manze / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony; Symphony No. 8

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Andrew Manze is familiar to classical listeners as a violinist and as a specialist in early music, but he has also pursued conducting, performing orchestral music of a more modern vintage. His concert performances have increasingly featured the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, and this 2016 release on Onyx of the Symphony No. 2 in G major, "A London Symphony" and the Symphony No. 8 in D minor gives a clear idea of his approach to this music. The impassioned reading of "A London Symphony" with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra reveals that Manze has an affinity for expansive melodic lines, poignant harmonies, and rich, atmospheric orchestration, and the sounds the orchestra produces are quite lush and luxuriant, wholly appropriate for Vaughan Williams' post-Romantic phase. The Symphony No. 8, dating from 1955, is Vaughan Williams' shortest symphony, and his use of pitched percussion creates a wonderful atmosphere that is unique in the cycle. Manze draws out marvelous sonorities from the orchestra, and the musicians respond with great warmth and a level of enthusiasm that is easy to perceive. Onyx has produced an exceptional recording with vivid tone colors and a resonant acoustic that gives the music a spacious feeling.

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