World Permiere Recording of the Original 1913 Version of A London Symphony featuring Nearly 20 Minutes of Music Not included in the Familiar Final Version
Chandos presents its second LP re-release, the distinguished recording of Vaughan William’s original 1913 version of A London Symphony. This recording, featuring Richard Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra, was met with universal critical acclaim upon initial release, being "destined for classic status," according to Gramophone. This is the first and only recording of the original 1913 version of the symphony, containing nearly twenty minutes of music not included in the familiar final version.
The Idyll, The Banks of Green Willow, by George Butterworth, was composed in 1913, the same year Vaughan Williams completed his A London Symphony. It is a sensuous work, which incorporates two folk songs Butterworth had collected in 1907. It was Butterworth who first suggested to Williams that he should write an orchestral symphony and, after Butterworth’s tragic death, he dedicated A London Symphony to his memory.
The work was finished by the end of 1913 and first performed at the queen’s Hall in London on March 27, 1914 conducted by Geoffrey Toye, and, as on this LP, was programmed after The Banks of Green Willow. Following the loss of the full score in Germany in 1914, Williams, Butterworth, Toye and E.J. Dent reconstructed it from the orchestral parts, and the first performance of the reconstruction took place on February 11, 1915 under Dan Godfrey. Williams revised the symphony three times: in 1918, 1920 and 1933, and the well-known ‘Revised Edition’ was published in the mid-1930s.
Listening to the original conception of A London Symphony is particularly exiting in that there is around twenty minutes of extra music from a time when Vaughan Williams was writing works of freshness and lyricism, including The Lark Ascending (1914).
Many of Williams’s friends regretted the cuts, Sir Arnold Bax referred to his sadness at ‘the loss of a mysterious passage of strange and fascinating cacophony with which the first version of the Scherzo closed’. Bernard Hermann felt that the deleted bars in the slow movement removed some of ‘the most original poetic moments in the entire symphony’. After the first performance of the original version, as heard on this LP, Williams’s close friend Gustav Holst wrote to the composer saying "You have really done it this time!" How right he was!
Vaughan Williams / George Butterworth (composer)
Richard Hickox (conductor)
Gordan Nikolitch (leader)
London Symphony Orchestra
Vaughan Williams - A London Symphony - Hickox - London Symphony Orchestra Track Listing:
1. Butterworth - The Banks of Green Willow - Idyll
2. Williams - A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) - I. Lento - Allegro risoluto
3. Williams - A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) - II. Lento
4. Williams - A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) - III. Scherzo (Nocturne). Allegro vivace - Andantino
5. Williams - A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) - IV. Andante con moto - Maestoso alla marcia (quasi lento) - Allegro - Andantino ma sostenuto - Tempo I - Allegro - Lento - Epilogue. Andante sostenuto - Lento