It seems as long as there is an England, there will be recordings of orchestral favorites by Vaughan Williams. And as this disc with Christopher Seaman leading the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra attests, most of them will probably be more than acceptable. The reasons for this happy state of affairs are not hard to fathom. Vaughan Williams wrote some of the most beautiful and some of the most quintessentially English music ever composed, and English audiences apparently can no more help wanting to hear it as often as possible than English musicians can help wanting to play it as well as possible.
In Seaman and the London musicians' performances, the hushed sublimity of the Tallis Fantasia, the blissful ecstasy of The Lark Ascending, and the bumptious energy of the English Folk Song Suite are all reproduced with enthusiasm and excitement. Long one of the great London orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic plays here with its trademark combination of tonal opulence and ensemble virtuosity. Seaman may not bring the depth of experience Boult or Barbirolli brought to Vaughan Williams' music, but one has to admire his skill in controlling the breakneck tempos of The Wasps' Overture, as well as his conviction in expressing the radiant glory of the Tallis Fantasia. Recorded in clear, full sound, this disc will please those who know these works and thrill those who don't.