Originally published on February 10

Martyn Brabbins’s superb VW Symphony Cycle for Hyperion is completed. Few words are needed for the final chapter.

Sinfonia antartica – from cinema to concert hall – http://www.colinscolumn.com/bbc-symphony-orchestra-at-barbican-centre-martyn-brabbins-conducts-vaughan-williamss-score-for-the-film-scott-of-the-antarctic/, exudes the chill and thrill of great music-making, the music itself of awesome power, vivid description and icy finality, presented here with tremendous attack and to disturbing effect, resigned rapture when required, totally focussed through the five movements … ultimately the frozen wastelands claim their human explorers. Fine vocals from Elizabeth Watts and the ladies of the Chorus; impressive wind machine, gong and organ.

VW’s enigmatic final Symphony (its Sargent-conducted premiere is on Somm): Boult had its measure from the off (Everest recording and a later one, and at a London concert when an elderly gent, my good fortune to be there). Sargent moved VW9 on, you can’t park here, as does John Wilson (thirty minutes). Brabbins (thirty-five) unfolds the music inexorably, impassionedly, relishing the mellifluous flugelhorn, the three saxophones, and unleashes music of suspense, swirling emotions, and deep expression. Very few commentators spotted a masterpiece in 1958.

Andrew Keener’s production values, stunning sound from Simon Eadon (assisted by Dave Rowell) – March last year, Watford – and a booklet note from Robert Matthew-Walker complete another desirable release. Hyperion CDA68405 is released on March 3. Hopefully further VW from Brabbins one day; Job for example.


Hallé – John Wilson conducts Vaughan Williams’s Ninth Symphony & Holst’s The Planets [live BBC Radio 3 broadcast].