VAUGHAN WILLIAMS / ELGAR
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
PINCHAS ZUKERMAN, Violin & Conductor
Decca 478 9386 / *****
Lovers of string music should not miss this excellent album which brings together the best-loved string works of two English masters, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) and Edward Elgar (1857-1934).
American violinist Pinchas Zukerman plays the role of both soloist and conductor. His svelte and sweet tone is best heard in Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, a single-movement violin concerto all but in name. Its use of modal themes relives the hallowed tradition of English folk music, continuing into the Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis, where three string choirs are employed to resonant effect. Here is a cathedral of sound, and a nod to the great English choral tradition.
Elgar is represented by his ubiquitous Salut D'Amour, once again with Zukerman doing the honours. The strings players of the London-based Royal Philharmonic are excellent in the three-movement Serenade For Strings, and shorter pieces Chanson De Matin, Chanson De Nuit and In Moonlight (with Zukerman now on viola), extracted from the tone poem In The South.
This splendid album is completed by the virtuosic Introduction and Allegro, which highlights a string quartet amid a full body of strings. A feast of glorious strings beckons.