VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Toward the Unknown Region plus Choral rarities

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958): Toward the Unknown Region (Song for Chorus and Orchestra), Willow-Wood (Cantata for Baritone and Orchestra), The Voice out of the Whirlwind (Motet for Chorus and Orchestra), Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus (for Strings and Harp), The Sons of Light (Cantata for Chorus and Orchestra), Darkness and Light, The Song of the Zodiac, The Messengers of Speech

Roderick Williams (baritone), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones

BBC Music Magazine “Roderick Williams’s beautifully phrased and enunciated singing in Willow-Wood proclaims him an heir to the great tradition of British baritones. Under the reliable David Lloyd-Jones, the orchestra sounds at ease. …a valuable and highly recommendable disc. “

Gramophone “this enterprising Vaughan Williams anthology. …features the first recording of Willow-Wood. Roderick Williams rises heroically to the challenge of a demanding, wide-ranging vocal part, and Lloyd-Jones draws an alert, enthusiastic response from his RLPO forces.”

CD notes …

The world premiere recording of the early cantata Willow-Wood by Ralph Vaughan Williams performed by magnificent baritone Roderick Williams with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under David Lloyd-Jones.

Scored for baritone, women’s choir and orchestra, Willow-Wood is a luxuriant setting of part of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sequence The House of Life. The work first appeared as a scena for baritone and piano in March 1903. It was performed in an extended version in 1909, but despite positive press and the publication of the vocal score, Willow-Wood has not been heard again until now.

The CD also contains other Vaughan Williams rarities. Unrecorded since the LP era, the choral cantata The Sons of Light is a dazzling depiction of the passing of the sun, with many of the magical harmonic and rhythmical effects for which Vaughan Williams was renowned.

The Voice out of the Whirlwind, a motet for chorus and orchestra was written for the first of the post-war annual St Cecilia Day services in London. Vaughan Williams later orchestrated it for his Leith Hill Festival at Dorking. This orchestrated version has never been available on CD.

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