Vaughan Williams: Piano Music – The Lake in the Mountains; Introduction and Fugue for two pianos; ‘Ach bleib’ bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ’ (BWV 649); Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Hymn Tune Prelude on ‘Song 13’; Fantasia on Greensleeves; A Little Piano Book; Suite of Six Short Pieces

Reviewed on Thu 26 Jan, 2017

Particularly pleasing are A Little Piano Book and the Suite of Six Short Pieces (better known, in its string version, as the Charterhouse Suite) – pedagogical miniatures brimming with inventiveness and craftsmanship.

Of interest here for completists is a first, finely delineated recording of the Introduction and Fugue for two pianos by Mark Bebbington and Rebecca Omordia. Bach-like in the intensity of its interlaced dialogue, and owing obvious kinship to the concurrently composed Sixth Symphony, it boasts a bold, complex fugue offering substantial satisfaction. The pair are equally sure-footed with a Tallis Fantasia full of hushed drama and operatic grandeur, poetic and poised on a sparkling, cut-crystal account of the Greensleeves Fantasia. Bebbington takes the solo spot elsewhere to just as captivating effect. Particularly pleasing are A Little Piano Book and the Suite of Six Short Pieces (better known, in its string version, as the Charterhouse Suite) – pedagogical miniatures brimming with inventiveness and craftsmanship. The Lake in the Mountains, the Hymn Tune Prelude on ‘Song 13’ and aching treatment of Bach’s ‘Ach bleib’ bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ’ (BWV 649) are affecting pieces realised with nuanced poetry. Essential.
–Michael Quinn