Vladimir Jurowski / Ryan Wigglesworth / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8

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Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Of Ralph Vaughan Williams' nine symphonies, the Symphony No. 4 in F minor and the Symphony No. 8 in D minor are the shortest and most Classical in form and compactness, yet they are startlingly different in their moods, so they make a complementary pair on this 2015 CD from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The grinding dissonances and severe angularity of the Fourth have been noted since its premiere in 1935, and it is often regarded as the most challenging of the cycle because of its stark scoring and unrelenting tension. In contrast, the Eighth of 1955 is a lighter and more playful work, and the highly colorful orchestration gives it a sparkle that is missing in the rugged Fourth. The performances on this disc date from two different concert dates, 2008 for the Eighth, with Vladimir Jurowski conducting, and 2013 for the Fourth, under the baton of Mark Wigglesworth, though the quality of the recordings is evenly matched and the lively acoustics of Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall give the orchestra a vibrant presence in both performances.

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