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

  • WTJU Classical Summer Pledge Drive Programs

    WTJU wraps up this fiscal year with its Summer Pledge Drive (albeit in the spring), coming up May 31-June 6. Below is a breakdown of all the Classical programs. You can also click on a specific day to go to the full schedule, which includes individual show descriptions. If you enjoy what we bring you all […]

  • New Blues, Soul & Gospel News – 5/26/2016

    New Blues, Soul & Gospel News – 5/26/2016 New Blues Adds: Honey Island Swamp Band – Demolition Day (Ruf): Just like the old term “swamp music” covered a lot of styles, so does the Honey Island Swamp Band. The opener immediately sounded like a lost Rolling Stones cut, while the twin guitars recall the Allman […]

  • jazz adds may 26, 2016

    gregory porter.  take me to the alley.  blue note.  Listen to this!  all originals, from vocal luminary gregory porter as he drives the Broadway bus into the r & b archives–all with a light, smart touch.  he can write music and lyrics.  band includes singers alicia olatuja & lalah hathaway;  keyon harrold, trumpet;  chip crawford, […]

  • Jordan Tice & Horse County on Lambeth Live, June 10

    Jordan Tice & Horse County will put on the June 10 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to the large lot […]

  • WTJU Folk Summer Pledge Drive Programs

    WTJU wraps up this fiscal year with its Summer Pledge Drive (albeit in the spring), coming up May 31-June 6.  Below is a breakdown of all the Folk, World, and Specialty programs.  If you enjoy what we bring you all year long, consider making a pledge at 434-924-0885, or on-line (and be sure to specify […]

  • Das Homage on Lambeth Live, June 3

    Das Homage will pay homage to The Beatles during the June 3 fundraising edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! No tickets required, but remember you are encouraged to pledge at 434-924-3959, or on-line […]