Happy Accident

I used to enjoy browsing for cd’s in shops in the days when large record shops were everywhere. In HMV I saw a cd by Respighi of Ancient Airs and Dances, conducted by Richard Hickox. Never heard of Respighi or Richard Hickox. The front cover of three Pre-Raphaelite young women seemed to confirm this was early music. I put the cd on and yes it seemed to be ‘early’ music but was marvellously orchestrated. Of course reading the booklet Respighi was a 20th century composer. By accident I had discovered a wonderful cd. Also, I found the late Richard Hickox who has become my favourite conductor and his Vaughan Williams recordings I think are superb. Those happy accidents of finding something special perhaps put in the wrong section of the store!


I recommend his ‘Fountains of Rome’.


Thanks have ordered a cd which I should have done years ago.

Tuned into this thread thinking it was going to be about Bob Ross!


Yes apologies to Bob Ross.

In fact your avatar looks like it could be the subject of a Bob Ross episode. Anyway, apologies for the thread drift, as you were.

Yes, Hickox IMO has done a great job with some Vaughan Williams. Here is a good one:

Also, if you are getting hooked on Respighi, try this on for size.

Be careful with your system volume at the end of the Pines of Rome. It will knock your socks off, trust me! It scared the absolute you-know-what out of me the first time I listened to this recording.


Keldas overlooking Ullswater.

Yes have the RH London Symphony. It is excellent. For someone so associated with the English countryside (one famous review said his music was like a cow looking over a gate) VW liked to think of himself as a Londonner.

If you ever want to explore some of Respighi’s songs, you could do worse than starting with this:

And personally I think RVW did his best work in his songs. There is some great work done here:

Does my vocal musical background show just a bit? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

1 Like

Thanks. I have an old version with Robert Tear.

That’s a good one, too! I have about 8 versions, including some tenors. I just love Terfel’s voice, and it is a really clean sound on the recording. Some of the other songs that RVW wrote, like “Love Sight”, “Hands, Eyes and Heart”, “Tired” or “Silent Noon” are absolutely stunning, too. And the Five Mystical Songs give me goosebumps, especially “Easter”. His works actually served as an introduction to British poetry that I had previously ignored in school!

I disliked ZZ Top. With a passion. It was something I knew.

After work one day I went to that Science Fiction bookshop on New Oxford Street, and started to browse. The bloke behind the counter changed the record and my ears pricked up. This was good! After about 10 minutes it became fantastic, so I asked him what was playing.

It was new new ZZ Top, Deguello. This can’t be right, because “I know” I don’t like ZZ Top. D’oh.

One of those happy happenstances, and a lesson for me not to pre-judge.


Due to hear Christopher Maltman in Songs of Travel tomorrow. Very excited.

A piece which, when you think it can’t get any louder, gets louder. :slight_smile:

The loudest piece of music I have ever heard live - you felt as if you were pinned to your seat especially when Birmingham Symphony hall organ opened up with baffles wide open.

1 Like

Difficult to compete with a full scale organ or if your system could it would blow the roof off! With neighbours and wife I generally have to tone down the volume but still get caught out when a sudden crescendo happens.

Ah, when a pipe organ comes in unexpectedly, or really prominently, it is pure bliss! The last 2 or 3 minutes of Mahler No. 2, when the chorus is literally screaming “Auferstehen! Ja, auferstehen!” And that pipe organ comes in . . . . It brings tears to my eyes. It is the probably the most transcendent musical moment I have ever experienced. The first time I sang it in college in a dress rehearsal with a pipe organ, I had to stop singing, as I was rendered speechless by the lump in my throat.

Not the same as hearing it live, of course, but the Bernstein/Vienna recording on DG has an amazing pipe organ sound that rattles the windows in my house. Can’t wait to add two REL T/7s to my system soon, as that will just get better!!

Sounds great. Should really extend the low bass.

The Richard Hickox Chandos recording of RVW’s ‘London Symphony’ mentioned by maison above is very special.

The version commonly played in modern times is some 20 minutes shorter than the original published score. Against his proper judgment, RVW was persuaded to make substantial cuts to the piece following its first performances, and this cut version is the one that listeners have come to expect.

Hickox and Chandos were able to convince the Elgar Estate to permit a recording of the uncut score, and that is what appears on the Chandos CD.

I always feel a jolt when hearing these unexpected parts of the piece, but it’s fascinating to hear.

I should just add that Hickox is a fine interpreter of the piece, and anyone who loves it as I do should at least hear it once.


I saw Richard Hickox conducting at Covent Garden in the late 90’s. He was a big man and looked a bit awkward in his conducting but the sound he produced was superb. I seem to remember it was Handel. Semele or Julius Caesar, possibly.