Home listening: Vaughan Williams, Frank Martin and Kenneth Leighton

The RLPO concludes its magnificent Vaughan Williams symphony cycle. Plus, two masses for double choir

• The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Andrew Manze’s Vaughan Williams symphony cycle (Onyx), promising from the outset, has sailed home in splendour. No 7 “Sinfonia Antartica” (1953) and the final, No 9 (1958), were both premiered when the composer (1872-1958) was in his 80s. The “Antarctica” grew out of his 1947 film score for Scott of the Antarctic, its orchestration as icy and eerie as its subject matter: multiple tuned percussion, gusts of wind machine and the vocalising of solo soprano - here the exquisite Rowan Pierce - and women of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic choir. The melodious Timothy West speaks the literary quotations which head each of the five movements. A compelling performance of the strange, brooding Ninth, complete with requisite flugelhorn and three saxophones, brings this series to a magnificent conclusion.

• The Swiss-Calvinist born Frank Martin (1890-1974) was fairly prolific, but the only work regularly performed here is his Mass for Double Choir. Mostly written in 1922, this sonically extravagant work was kept from public view until its premiere in 1963. Rich in variety, from urgency to supplication, making full use of the antiphonal potential of two unaccompanied choirs, it is vividly sung in Masses for Double Choir by the Choir of King’s College London, directed by Joseph Fort (Delphian). Fresh and engaged, this ensemble may not have the impeccable blending of some collegiate choirs but their commitment and musicality shines out. The Martin is coupled with the Mass Op 44 by Kenneth Leighton (1929-88), and ends with the Postlude pour l’office de Complies (1930) by Jehan Alain (1911-40), serenely played by organist James Orford. Another Delphian win.

• Check out Radio 3’s New Music Show (replacing Hear and Now), consigned to a Saturday late-night graveyard slot (10pm-midnight) but worth tracking down, with Kate Molleson, Tom Service and Robert Worby as smart presenters. Last week: Tectonics Glasgow. Last night: Harrison Birtwistle’s Duo for Eight Strings and New York School composer Christian Wolff.

Contributor

Fiona Maddocks

The GuardianTramp

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