Raw Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 1 & 7
**** Royal Festival Hall, London

Neither symphony launching this series celebrating Vaughan Williams's 50th anniversary is performed often. The first, his setting of Walt Whitman's Song for All Seas, All Ships, demands a veritable navy of orchestral and choral resources, and the seventh, an expansion of the score of Scott of the Antarctic, is usually dismissed as an oddity, fraught with technical and artistic difficulty.

As an exploration of the awe and mystery of the natural world and of man's hubristic desire to master it, it is appropriate that the Sinfonia Antarctica threatens to spin out of control at every lurching turn - which made Hickox and the Philharmonia's restrained mastery of the score all the more remarkable...

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