Following on from his success on Albion with Hadley's Fen and Flood, the conductor is Paul Daniel and he is joined, in the Songs of Travel, by Roland Wood – fresh from singing Pilgrim at the English National Opera – and by Andrew Kennedy in the Four Hymns. The orchestra is the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
The music to The Solent clearly had a deep significance for Vaughan Williams as he used the haunting melody that opens the work in a number of other compositions including A Sea Symphony (1909) and his Symphony No. 9 in E minor (1957). Listening to these early works will provide fresh understanding of Vaughan Williams' creative ability in the first decade of the 20th century.
The Solent is available from Albion Records at £9.99 plus postage and packing.
|Finally, my CD of the year is the recent Albion (ALBCD016) recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams 'Three Impressions for Orchestra', especially 'The Solent.' I have waited for at least 40 years to hear this work, since reading about it in connection with the composer's Ninth Symphony. And it is everything I could have imagined. I must not forget the other 'impressions' – 'Burley Heath' and 'Harnham Down', nor the incidental music to Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.' This may not be the most profound music released on CD this year but from my point of view it is the most fascinating. An impressive review by David Barker sets the seal on this disc.
With two world premieres – Impressions & Casterbridge – this is a very important release by the recording arm of The Vaughan Williams Society. Often with "lost" works by major composers, one gets a sense of "interesting, but not especially significant", but here, the second Impression – The Solent – that gives the album its name is Vaughan Williams near his best and a major discovery.
This gem of an album features the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Daniel in a selection of rarely heard works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, some of them receiving their first recording. There's the world premiere recording of Three Impressions for Orchestra. It features the title piece, The Solent, that gives the album its name. Reminiscent of Vaughan Williams' In the Fen Country and also dating from the early 1900s, it's a delicate, melancholy tone poem.
Songs of Travel Book 1 is performed magnificently by the baritone Roland Wood while Four Hymns for Tenor, Viola Obbligato and Strings give scope to shine to the tenor Andrew Kennedy and the viola player Nicholas Bootiman. The album concludes with another world premiere recording, Vaughan Williams' incidental music for a radio dramatisation of Thomas Hardy's novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge.