Vaughan Williams Choral Works
Richard Hickox and his excellent LSO forces continue to go from strength to strength. Here's a generous and inspiring coupling of two of VW's most important choral utterances, both directed to the manner born. Hickox coaxes some magnificent sounds from the LSO throughout: in
Of course, a brand-new recording of Sancta civitas, one of VW's most personal and visionary creations, was long overdue. It's a work whose multi-layered scoring places great demands on both conductor and production team alike: suffice to report, it's difficult to see Hickox's inspirational account of this still-underrated score (with its striking pre-echoes of Job and the Fourth Symphony) being surpassed for many years to come, whilst Andrew Keener's meticulous production possesses atmosphere and transparency in ideal measure.
The mid-price EMI Studio reissues of Boult's Dona nobis pacem (4/89) and Willcocks's Sancta civitas (5/89) didn't last long in the catalogue, but Thomson's admirable 1989 Chandos account of the former work remains—a deeply-felt realization, if without quite the refinement and rapt intensity of the new Hickox. EMI's thrillingly clean, wide-ranging Abbey Road sonics set the seal on a truly memorable pair of performances. This is unquestionably a major VW release.'