Vaughan Williams Willow-wood Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Probably the first performance of Vaughan Williams's cantata Willow-Wood in its...

Andrew McGregor 2006

It's definitely a first recording, which is surprising enough, but it's probably the first performance of Vaughan Williams's cantata Willow-Wood in its orchestral version since the Liverpool premiere in 1909...and there's no danger of mistaking it for the work of any other composer; it's RVW right off the bat.

Texts by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a sequence of four sonnets which VW turns into a tableau on love divided, and baritone Roderick Williams is perfectly cast: gentle warmth, virility, and nobility tinged with regret. But it's the orchestra and often wordless chorus that supply most of the colour, the coolly-lit musical equivalent of a pre-Raphaelite painting.

You'd buy this for Willow-Wood, and you'd be right to, but conductor David Lloyd-Jones has put it in the context of a highly enjoyable programme, the other highlight of which is The Sons of Light; VW's creation cantata setting words by his wife-to-be. It hasn't been recorded since the days of the LP, and it's the only currently available recording.

A fine recording from the Liverpool forces, and that's a nice touch given Willow-Wood's history. The only thing cheap about the whole project is the price.

Like This? Try These:
Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Christopher Maltman)
Vaughan Williams: Film Music (vol 1) (BBC Philharmonic)
Alan Rawsthorne: Symphonies 1-3 (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra)

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