Ralph Vaughan Williams Early Chamber Works

Ralph Vaughan Williams withdrew many of the works he wrote before 1907. Based on this release, he was too modest. In this collection of early chamber music performed by the London Solists Ensemble, one can tell RVW’s compositional voice isn’t fully formed, but there’s a simple beauty in them, nevertheless.

The disc opens with the 1903 piano quintet in C minor. Although RVW would withdraw it a few years later, at the time he considered it one of his most important compositions. There’s a dramatic sweep and expansiveness that keeps things moving along. Sometimes it sounds as if Vaughan Williams is trying a little too hard to top Brahms (or perhaps Schubert — the works shares the same instrumentation as the “Trout” quintet). On the whole, though, it’s a solid work, looking forward to RVW’s pre-war masterpieces.

The 1898 Quintet in D major for violin, cello clarinet, horn and piano is a thrilling, late romantic work. RVW employs a free-wheeling style, letting the evocative melodies unfold as they will. But while the work may follow Germanic romantic tradition, there’s still a certain Englishness to the music. I heard it in the harmonic progressions that sometimes employ the false relationships of English renaissance music.

It was only after his death that RVW’s “Roomance for Viola and Piano was discovered. This short work features a sinuously weaving melody sounds like it could have been an early sketch for “The Lark Ascending” (although it wasn’t). Violist Sarah-Jane Bradley gives an emotional reading to this welcome rediscovery.

“Six Studies in English Folk Song” (1926) has seen many incarnations. Originally written for cello and piano, Vaughan Williams arranged it for other instruements, including the clarinet version heard here. Anthony Pike playes these small tunes in a quiet, straight-forward fashion in an utterly charming performance.

Of course this is a must-have for Vaughan Williams compleatists. But these (mostly) suppressed works are of sufficient quality that most anyone who enjoys chamber music would appreciate the music on this album.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Piano Quintet in C minor; Romance for Viola and Piano; Quintet in D major for violin, cello, clarinet, horn, and piano; Six Studies in English Folk Song for clarinet and piano
London Soloists Ensemble
Naxos

More Recent Posts

  • Jan 24 Gather ‘Round: Honky Tonk Tuesdays Band

    Gather ‘Round each Saturday night from 8-9 for WTJU Folk‘s concert series; both archived and live. There will be shows from The Prism Coffeehouse and VA Folklife archives mixed in with some from our announcers’ own libraries. And you never know when a live concert might pop up!  This week’s program comes from Burlington, Vermont […]

  • New Jazz Adds – 1/21/2015

    New Jazz Adds – 1/21/2015 Anthony Braxton – Trio And Duet (Sackville): Remarkable tour de force recording from 1974.  Most famous for expanding his styles and listeners ears, Braxton decided to step away from the more familiar quartets and open with a trio, including Leo Smith on trumpet, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, and percussion and Richard […]

  • New Blues News – 1/20/2015

    New Blues News – 1/20/2015 New Blues Adds: Tas Cru – You Keep The Money (Crustee Tees):  Most recent release (his 5th) from bandleader Cru (guitars, vox, writer of all songs on this disc) with backup by Mary Ann Casale (vox, dulcimer), Alice “Honeybea” Ericksen (vox), Dick Earl Ericksen (harp), Chip Lamson (piano), Guy Nirelli […]

  • 2015 Folk Marathon thank-you gifts

    DONATE NOW, and pick one of these 2015 Folk Marathon thank-you gifts: 2015 Folk Marathon short-sleeve t-shirt See image above. Design will be printed on sand-colored t-shirt fabric. Sizes available: S-XXL Pledge: $75 CD: Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn Pledge: $75 CD: Light the Stars Bonsoir Catin Pledge: $75 CD: […]

  • WTJU Rock’s Best of 2014 Compilation

    WTJU Rock DJs’ Top Tens of 2014 Dear Listener, please find below the links to individual rock DJs’ fave raves of 2014 – the albums, EPs, singles, mixtapes, reissues, live sets, and “moments” that got us off. Thanks for listening, and even more, thanks for keeping us on our toes. Individual lists: Baconfat Jack Sheridan […]

  • Woldemar Bargiel — Romantic masterworks

    Music talent definitely ran in the family. Woldemar Bargiel wasn’t just a well-respected composer. He was also the half-brother of Clara Wieck Schumann, a pianist and composer of no mean ability herself. Woldemar also won the respect of her husband Robert. He also worked closely with Brahms, co-editing editions of works by Chopin and Schumann. […]