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Monday, March 20, 2017

Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Pilgrim's Progress, Radio Play, Boult, BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Chorus

What lengths we go to hear ALL of Ralph Vaughan Williams' oeuvre depends on how committed to such a project we might be.

An example of the charming yet non-essential Vaughan Williams there is out there is the complete 1943 BBC radio play broadcast of The Pilgrim's Progress (Albion ALBCD 023/24) on two CDs, with incidental music by Vaughan Williams, played and sung by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The classic tale is rendered as only the BBC could do back then, with a period dramatic ethos we do not experience so much anymore.

The music itself has much to recommend it. Eight years later Vaughan Williams completed a full opera on the same subject, and this music has similarities and differences that will fascinate the completist.

Included is a 1929 broadcast of two short choruses by Granville Bantock, commemorating the John Bunyan tercentenary.

Perhaps this is not for everyone. But the serious Vaughan Williams enthusiast will respond readily. Others may be satisfied with Vaughan Williams' complete opera.

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