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Thursday, February 9, 2017
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Purer Than Pearl
Vaughan Williams' first songs are firmly in a romantic realm. They are fascinating but mostly uncharacteristic. From 1901 and the song "Linden Lea" we come into familiar Vaughan Williams territory, songs with hints or direct use of folk material, lyric gems, some with the mystery of mature Ralph. These comprise around 3/4 of the album and will be manna for the Vaughan Williams aficionado. Most are for single voice and piano, some are duos and a few include a violin part.
The vocalists seem generally well-suited to the music; William Vann does everything right with the piano parts, as does Thomas Gould for his four appearances on violin.
This is not precisely an essential disk unless you are a Vaughan Williams completist. Nevertheless it will enchant you much of the time if you let the music into your experience.