Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs, Vol. 4

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This is the fourth and final volume in a series of albums recording all 81 of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin. 57 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements. This album has 19 tracks including 13 world premières. All but four of the songs were collected by Maud Karpeles in Newfoundland in 1929 and 1930. When she got back, she and Vaughan Williams spent some hours going through everything that she had found, selecting the 15 songs presented here - with an emphasis, it seems, on the sadder songs. As a result, many people will find this the most enjoyable album of the set. Maud Karpeles said that her life would have been worthwhile if collecting 'She’s Like the Swallow' had been all that she had done. Jonathan Woolf wrote on Musicweb International: ‘This marvellous series is full of discovery and a genuine sense of engagement with the medium. When we have the final volume we’ll have a compact body of foundational folklore that will prove of enduring value to the VW lover.’

Past praise for the first three volumes of this series:

The songs here could scarcely receive better advocacy. All three singers enter fully into the spirit of the songs and sing them with commitment and, as you’d expect, a high degree of skill. Occasionally, they deliver the songs in appropriately rustic accents but this touch is never overdone. They treat the songs with the respect they deserve and, my goodness, does it pay off. William Vann accompanies expertly throughout. It’s an auspicious beginning to the series which will bring us all of VW’s solo-voice folk song arrangements.

– MusicWeb International

There’s a great deal to enjoy in this second instalment of folk song arrangements by Vaughan Williams. The tunes themselves are fine ones and VW’s sympathy for and delight in his material is never in doubt. The performances are consistently excellent. The performers pay these settings the compliment of treating them with as much seriousness as they would bring to, say, Lieder by Schubert: they are right to do so. The recorded sound is excellent throughout, with a particularly pleasing balance between singers and the piano. John Francis’s notes are a mine of valuable information about the songs and their origins; his style is eminently readable.

– MusicWeb International

The three singers are among the finest in Britain and are in great demand as recording artists. Mary Bevan is thoroughly at home in this genre as well as in baroque, classical, and contemporary repertoire. Nicky Spence is one of the best recitalists and singing actors in opera. He has consistently produced albums of high merit. There is no baritone I would rather hear in song literature than Roderick Williams and none I have reviewed so often. All three singers use their voices well and sound as though they are having great fun with them. Their storytelling shows an earnest and warm appreciation for these songs. These volumes are a delight in every way. The recorded sound is excellent. The design is beautiful. This project now stands as one of the finest testaments to VW’s life. Texts are included though hardly needed.

-- American Record Guide

Product Description:

  • Release Date: April 22, 2022

  • Catalog Number: ALBCD045

  • UPC: 5060158190454

  • Label: Albion

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams

  • Performer: Roderick Williams