VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No 6; Lark Ascending; Tallis Fantasia – Davis
Sir Andrew Davis’s Vaughan Williams symphony cycle for Teldec may not have always found favour in these pages, the exception being this first instalment from 1990 containing the Sixth, Tallis Fantasia and The Lark Ascending. If not quite as enviably concentrated as either Handley or Haitink (to name the two most powerful contenders of recent years), Davis similarly surveys the Symphony in defiantly unsensational fashion, cannily refusing to overplay his hand in the final full flowering of the first movement’s second subject (like Handley, he already has his gaze firmly set on the slow movement’s shattering fff apex) and drawing playing of admirable hush and tension in the bleached finale. As Sixths go, this deserves a place on any short list.
No grumbles, either, about the two-fill-ups; the Tallis Fantasia brings some ravishing string sonorities (superb engineering throughout, by the way), and Tasmin Little’s is an intoxicating, silvery presence in The Lark Ascending. Altogether remarkable value at its new, enticingly low price.