“The conductor so good I nearly crashed my car”: Daily Telegraph profile

Andrew Manze’s recent performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have prompted a glowing profile in the Daily Telegraph (9 May 2017) by columnist and ardent Vaughan Williams fan Simon Heffer. The concerts were part of their ongoing project to perform and record all nine of Vaughan Williams’ symphonies.

Heffer describes Manze as “the greatest living interpreter of Vaughan Williams’ music, and especially of his symphonies.”

“When I first heard that disc [of Vaughan Williams Symphonies No.2 and 8], and despite having already numerous recordings of both symphonies by conductors so close to Vaughan Williams as Boult and Barbirolli, and as insightful about him as Vernon Handley and André Previn, I realised Manze was taking me further inside the works than I had ever been before.

This should not have surprised me. A few years ago, I found a performance of the Fourth Symphony by Manze and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, broadcast on Radio 3, so absorbing I almost crashed my car.”

Heffer also offers some insight into Manze’s approach to the British composer’s work:

“Why is Manze so good at Vaughan Williams? First, he goes back to the original scores and looks carefully at them: so carefully that the Liverpool concert of the Fifth was the first given as the composer intended since he himself last conducted it – because two squiggles in the score that were thought to be notes, and which have been played in every other performance and recording but which the composer knew not to be there, were not notes at all. Manze realised this after listening to a 1952 recording of Vaughan Williams conducting it.

But he also seems to understand the mind of the composer, allowing him to relay his vision with true clarity; and has a keen appreciation of the context in which the music was written. If you add that to superb musicianship and a natural affinity for Vaughan Williams’ idiom, you have a combination of qualities that can only lead to inspirational performances.

The performances of the Fifth and Sixth were awesome … He brings out the significance of every note, played by an orchestra whose coherence and comprehension of these scores lacks nothing. It was time for a truly great modern Vaughan Williams cycle, and this is it.”

The first CD in Manze’s Vaughan Williams cycle with the RLPO, a recording of Symphonies No.2 and 8 published by Onyx Classics, received widespread critical acclaim on its release in April 2016:

“Manze keeps a tight rein but lets the music blossom. The RLPO and its excellent soloists make a warm, lustrous sound.”
Guardian, April 2016

“Manze guides the music with affection and sensitivity, obtaining refined playing from the RLPO … Manze finds the poetry in the music … the hushed closing pages are truly magical.”
MusicWeb-International.com, May 2016

“Manze never puts a foot wrong.”
theartsdesk.com, May 2016