BBC Music Magazine - - REVIEWS -

The Poi­soned Kiss – over­ture; In the Fen Coun­try; Three Por­traits from The Eng­land of El­iz­a­beth; Fan­ta­sia on Sus­sex Folk Tunes; Bu­colic Suite Martin Rum­mel (cello); Deutsche Staat­sphil­har­monie Rhein­land-pfalz/ Karl-heinz St­ef­fens

SWR C5314 70:38 mins

The Vaughan Wil­liams cat­a­logue is so filled with record­ings by English or­ches­tras and con­duc­tors that it’s re­fresh­ing to hear the mu­sic ap­proached from the an­gle of a re­lated but still dif­fer­ent cul­ture. Based in Lud­wigshafen and Mainz, this orches­tra with its line-up of qual­ity play­ers (among them a su­perb prin­ci­pal horn and oboe) surely can­not be over­fa­mil­iar with any of these works, and it’s in­trigu­ing to won­der quite what they make of RVW in rois­ter­ing English-folk­song mode. They re­spond ex­cel­lently in any case, and their mu­sic direc­tor (a for­mer prin­ci­pal clar­inet­tist of the Berlin Phil­har­monic) con­ducts with an un­ob­tru­sive strength of pur­pose that mir­rors a sim­i­lar qual­ity in the mu­sic it­self.

The finest play­ing is gen­er­ated by the finest ma­te­rial: In the Fen Coun­try con­firms its stand­ing as the first of Vaughan Wil­liams’s quiet mas­ter­works, here graced with beau­ti­fully sure solo and en­sem­ble play­ing to match. Rar­i­ties in­clude the Fan­ta­sia of Sus­sex Folk Tunes for cello and orches­tra of 1925, like­ably per­formed by soloist Martin Rum­mel, whose un-hec­tor­ing tone and man­ner un­mis­tak­ably re­call the ex­am­ple of his for­mer teacher, Wil­liam Pleeth. Not too much can be done with the trite­ness of the over­ture to the (no­tion­ally) comic opera The

Poi­soned Kiss, but at least every­one here tries. And the set of El­iz­a­bethan doc­u­men­tary-film ‘por­traits’ (Drake, Shake­speare, Queen El­iz­a­beth her­self) emerges as a mi­nor cre­ation of gen­uine sub­stance. Mal­colm Hayes

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