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MP 3665
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MP 3665

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: 49th Parallel / Story of a Flemish Farm

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2008


Andrew Penny

Record Label
Naxos - Marco Polo



Total Time - 67:40
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49th Parallel Suite


The Story of a Flemish Farm Suite

2 The Flag Flutters In The Wind 2:45
3 Night By The Sea - Farewell To The Flag 2:20
4 Dawn In The Barn - The Parting Of The Lovers 5:36
5 In A Belgian Cafe 3:03
6 The Major Goes To Face His Fate 3:15
7 The Dead Man's Kit 4:37
8 The Wanderings Of The Flag 4:49

Coastal Command Suite

9 Prelude 1:41
10 The Hebrides 1:41
11 U-Boat Alert 3:06
12 Taking Off At Night 1:40
13 The Hudsons Take Off From Iceland 2:17
14 Dawn Patrol ('Quiet Determination') 4:04
15 Battle Of The Beauforts 3:48
16 Finale 4:19

3 Portraits from England of Elizabeth

17 Explorer 4:20
18 Poet 6:46
19 Queen 5:15
 Andrew Penny

Vaughan Williams’s life is too well known to require other than the briefest of summaries, and is best told by the succession of his greatest works including nine symphonies first performed over a span of almost fifty years. Yet he wrote in all forms, and the pinnacles of his music encompass a varied repertoire: Songs of Travel (1904); On Wenlock Edge for tenor and piano quintet (1909); A sea symphony(1909); Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis (1910); A London symphony (1913); the opera Hugh the Drover (1924); Job, the ballet - or rather "Masque for Dancing" as Vaughan Williams called it; the Fourth symphony (1934); the cantata Dona Nobis Pacem (1936); the Fifth (1943) and sixth (1947) symphonies; the opera (Vaughan Williams said morality) The Pilgrim’s Progress (1951) and so on until the Ninth symphony first heard in the year of his death.Perhaps we have tended to have rather a homespun view of Vaughan Williams, and one gets the feeling that he was not unhappy with this image. In fact he was a highly educated, musically widely experienced, and remarkably sophisticated artist, a member of the Wedgewood family on his mother’s side and also related to Charles Darwin. A history graduate of Cambridge University, and pupil of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music, he studied widely not only with English teachers such as Sir Hubert Parry, Charles Wood and Alan Gray, but also on the continent with Max Bruch and Ravel (as he put it to "acquire a little French polish".) Folk-song collector, editor of the English Hymnal and later Songs of Praise, editor of Purcell, organist and conductor, he was a complete musician, and although he took longer than many to acquire his mature voice, the progress of his music over an active composing life spanning more than sixty years is quite remarkable, yet always informed by his personal voice and with something distinctive and arresting to say: he wrote in every genre from songs to opera, choral music to symphonies, chamber music to ballet. His enormous integrity and liberal humanist spirit in the tradition of Sir Hubert Parry, his mentor, give him a commanding position in our music.From the first sound films in the 1930s, the cinema attracted many of the leading composers of the day, particularly in Great Britain, and composers such as Arthur Benjamin, Arthur Bliss and Benjamin Britten found themselves in demand, in Britten’s case for feature films, with the experimental GPO Film Unit, for which he produced innovative scores for small forces, of which Night Mail is the best known. Bliss made an enormous impact with his striking and flamboyant score for Things To Come, which in its day gave film music as a genre an enormous step forward. During and soon after the war most of the leading British composers of the day wrote music for films, including Walton, Rawsthorne, Frankel, Lambert, Bax and John Ireland, generating a wide following among a public that flocked to the cinema on a regular basis. At the time film music was not highIy rated by professional musicians. Even when Constant Lambert wrote in support of the film score he felt he had to say: "film music should not be despised because it is inevitably more ephemeral and less important than symphonic and operatic music".Ralph Vaughan Williams composed his first film music in 1940-41 - for the film Forty-Ninth Parallel - and his last, a group of songs for voice and oboe, for the film A Vision of William Blake, in 1957, eight months before he died. Over the intervening fifteen years he w rote music for no less than eleven films, the music for one of them being soon developed into his seventh symphony the Sinfonia Antartica: so, unlike many of his contemporaries, Vaughan Williams viewed film music as something more than ephemera. Indeed he protested against the habit of many directors for only thinking of the music after the film had been shot, arguing that the various arts involved in making a film should come together from the beginning. He pointed out that film music can be written in two ways - by every action, word, gesture or incident being punctuated in sound - or as he remarked "to ignore the details and intensify the spirit of the whole situation by a continuous stream of music", confessing that he was incapable of doing otherwise.Vaughan Williams’ films were: Forty Ninth Parallel (it opened at the Odeon Leicester Square on 8th October 1941); Coastal Command (Plaza London 16th October 1942); The People’s Land (17th March 1943); The Story of a Flemish Farm (Leicester Square Theatre 12th August 1943; Stricken Peninsular (October 1945); The Loves of Joanna Godden (16th June 1947); Scott of the Antarctic (19th November 1948); Dim Little Island March (1949); Bitter Springs (Australia June 1950, London 10th July 1950); The England of Elizabeth (March 1957); and, The Vision of William Blake (10th October 1958).

"Fine sound and decent playing...VW "completists" and film-music buffs alike should enjoy this disc."
Gramophone magazine

"Vaughan Williams’s wartime film music was of the highest quality. The Powell/Pressburger movie 49th Parallel (1941), made in the early years of the war, inspired a Prelude with a nostalgic patriotic feeling. Coastal Command (1942) was a dramatized documentary which centred on the romantic profiles of the Catalina flying-boats, resulting in warmly evocative music, with echoes from the composer’s symphonic writing. The even more imaginative (1943) score for The Story of a Flemish Farm (a true story about personal sacrifice which enabled wartime escape to England) brings similar resonances. The masterly evocation of Dawn in the Barn clearly anticipates the Sixth Symphony, while the haunting sequence The Dead Man’s Kit evokes the Sinfonia Antartica. Elizabeth in England (1955-7), another documentary, narrated by Alec Clunes, has its Elizabeth hey-nonny flavor, but there is a haunting Poet sequence which introduces a magically gentle tune, also used in the Sea Symphony, Finally comes a celebration of The Queen, not just regal but thoughtful in restrained nobility. Andrew Penny is a splendid advocate in performances eloquent in their mood-painting. The recording is bright and full, if rather two-dimensional."  **(*)
Penguin Guide, January 2009

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