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The Hallé announces two releases marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Release on 3 June 2022.


Vaughan Williams Symphony No.7 and 9

Sinfonia antartica (Symphony No.7)+
Symphony No.9
Norfolk Rhapsody No.1*
The Lark Ascending*^

Sophie Bevan, soprano +

Sopranos and Altos of the Hallé Choir +
Lyn Fletcher, violin ^
Sir Mark Elder, conductor

‘the music is a graphic illustration of bleak polar landscapes. Here it was raw and brutal, moving slowly and glacier-like on a huge scale… This was a memorable performance’
Bachtrack review of the Hallé’s performance of Sinfonia antartica
24 January 2019

Premiered by the Hallé under Sir John Barbirolli in 1953, the Sinfonia antartica originated in Vaughan Williams’ score for the film ‘Scott of the Antarctic’. With a highly original scoring (including solo soprano, wordless women’s chorus, organ, piano and extensive percussion section), the work depicts the struggle of man over nature, as epitomized in Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. The symphony is characterized with heroic themes, evocative orchestral effects and music which is at turns emotive and powerful. 

In contrast the Ninth Symphony depicts the more philosophical challenges of mankind. Initially receiving a luke-warm reception it has come to be seen as a work imbued with what Vaughan Williams authority Michael Kennedy described as ‘a new richness of sound’. This enigmatic work is scored for standard orchestral forces, with the addition of saxophones and flugelhorn which add orchestral colour. This was the composer’s last symphony and was premiered just four months before his death in 1958.  In construction it stands as the culmination of his compositional career, with elusive and constantly developing themes and evocative depictions of a wide range of emotions.

The  symphonies are coupled with two orchestral works, Norfolk Rhapsody No.1 and The Lark Ascending, which were previously released as part of an English music mixed composer collection. 

Sinfonia antartica: recorded 24 January 2019 in the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester live and in rehearsal.  Producer and balance engineer Steve Portnoi. Assistant engineers Jeremy Oxley and Graham Jacob

Symphony No.9 recorded 15-17 November 2021 in Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester. Producer Jeremy Hayes, balance engineer Steve Portnoi, assistant engineer Edward Citanova

* Recorded 5-6 November 2005 in BBC Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester. Producer Andrew Keener.  Engineer Simon Eadon.


The Complete Vaughan Williams Symphonies Box Set

Sir Mark Elder, conductor

‘What moved me most was the sense of craggy dignity conveyed by both symphonies.  The playing – as usual with Elder’s Hallé – is outstanding, technically and expressively.’
Stephen Johnson, BBC Music Magazine, December 2017
Vaughan Williams Symphonies No.4 and 6 (CD HLL 7547)

This boxed set includes all nine Vaughan Williams symphonies, attractively packaged and released at a special price to mark the occasion of the composer’s 150th anniversary. These award-winning performances are accompanied by an extensive booklet, including new material charting the Hallé’s historic relationship with Vaughan Williams, and featuring material drawn from the orchestra’s archives.

Acclaim for Hallé Vaughan Williams recordings:

The releases will follow the joint Hallé/BBC Philharmonic festival of Vaughan Williams Toward the Unknown Region – RVW150 which will run in Manchester from February to May 2022.

Extensive media interest is anticipated, including an interview with Sir Mark Elder in the June issue of Gramophone Magazine.

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