Damian's 78s (and a few early LPs)

Historic recordings remastered. Not a sales list!

Vaughan Williams’s “A London Symphony” – Wood and Goossens

As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to remember a composer who died fifty years ago: Ralph Vaughan Williams. There have been many reissues in connection with this, including, from Symposium, Dan Godfrey’s premiere recording of A London Symphony – both his earlier recording of the first (abridged) and third movements, and the “complete” recording that followed. The abridged first movement was one of the records recommended by Percy Scholes in his “Second Book of the Gramophone Record”. Godfrey’s recording used the 1920 version of the score. Vaughan Williams published an updated version of the score in 1936, and it is this that was used by Sir Henry Wood in his recording the same year. However, by a curious quirk, when Eugene Goossens recorded the work in 1941 with the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra, he used the 1920 version. It is also noteworthy, that both Wood and Goossens omit the repeat of the first section of the Scherzo, which Godfrey included in both his acoustic recordings of the movement. There can be no doubt that both conductors would have had room for it: Wood’s side lengths are fairly short, and breaks between movements occur during sides; and Goossens’s recording takes 9 sides, with the 10th taken up by a 1938 recording with the LSO of Bizet’s Farandole!

These recordings, then, by Wood and Goossens provide an opportunity to compare the two versions of the work. It’s also an instructive comparison of recording styles. Wood rarely approaches a true pianissimo, particularly where the lower instruments are concerned, perhaps continuing the habits from around 1916 when he started conducting for records. Goossens for Victor has a much more natural recorded sound, allowing for a wide dynamic range.

Mediafire link for Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony – Henry Wood

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony

I. Lento – Allegro risoluto (3½ sides)
II. Lento (2 sides)
III. Scherzo (Nocturne) (1½ sides)
IV. Andante con moto – Maestoso alla Marcia. (2 sides)
Epilogue – Andante sostenuto (1 side)

Decca X.114-8
Matrices TA 2126-III, 2127-II, 2128-II, 2129-II, 2130-II, 2131-III, 2132-I, 2133-III, 2134-2, 2135-II
Recorded 21st April 1936
Issued June 1936
The Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Sir Henry J. Wood
George Stratton, leader

There is a deterioration in sound quality for the last two sides, as the final disc in my copy of the set of 78s has a crack from label to rim. I have done my best to alleviate the effects of this.

Mediafire link for Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony – Eugene Goossens

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony

I. Lento – Allegro risoluto (3 sides)
II. Lento (2 sides)
III. Scherzo (Nocturne) (1 side)
IV. Andante con moto – Maestoso alla Marcia. (1½ sides)
Epilogue – Andante sostenuto (1½ sides)

RCA Victor Red Seal DM-916 (11-8253/7)
Matrices 062506/14
Recorded 19th and 20th February 1941, Cincinatti
Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Bizet – L’Arlésienne Suite No.2 – 4. Farandole
RCA Victor Red Seal 11-8253
Matrix 2EA 6311-II, 073028
Recorded 9th May 1938, Abbey Road Studio 1, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

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