This is the third of your Vaughan Williams Symphony recordings. What draws you to his music?
As a boy I was attracted by the music’s beauty: the Serenade to Music, the Mass in G Minor, the Five Mystical Songs. The opening of the Fifth Symphony captivated me whereas the Sixth Symphony scared me off. As I get older, I realise that it is Vaughan Williams’s sincerity I cherish. His roots lie deep in the English musical subsoil (old church hymns and folk music) and his music emerged from those roots via his heart and instinct. So now I find I am in sympathy even with his most rugged, stern pieces.
Many conductors – most English, but some ‘internationals’ – have embraced these symphonies. Do you come at these works with any of your predecessor’s interpretations in mind and is there anything specific you hope to bring out of them that might perhaps not be so apparent in previous recordings?
The English do not hold a Vaughan Williams monopoly. I am always curious to hear other musicians’ interpretations in general but, when it comes to preparing a score and working with an orchestra, what someone else did is nowhere near my conscious mind....