All seems right with the world of recorded classical music when a major label issues such a revelatory orchestral disc as this.

All seems right with the world of recorded classical music when a major label issues such a revelatory orchestral disc as this. Vaughan Williams was in his 80s when he penned his valedictory Symphonies Nos. 8 and 9, but the invention that shines from every bar belies the man's advanced years—if only more younger composers could think and feel with such lucid, heartfelt freshness. The luminous quality of the Eighth Symphony (premiered in 1956) stems in part from the exotic percussion scoring, laced with tubular bells, vibraphones, and glockenspiel. Also unusual, the orchestration of the Ninth Symphony (1958) is colored by saxophones. Throughout each of these tough-minded, open-hearted works are wondrous textures and melodies of surpassing lyricism. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Bernard Haitink complete their Vaughan Williams cycle resoundingly with this set, which could hardly be better played, conducted, or recorded. All associated deserve a music lover's fervent applause.—BB