Earth & Sky: Choral premieres by Vaughan Williams

Reviewed on Mon 26 Nov, 2018

Prominent throughout is an admirable sensitivity to word setting and mood, qualities exquisitely conjured in engaging performances of exemplary diction.

Here’s something of a coup for William Vann and the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (home to the fabled Chelsea Pensioners): 21 first recordings of choral works by Vaughan Williams, several previously unpublished. Spanning the years 1896 to 1954 and grouped chronologically into various choral permutations – with occasional piano (Vann) and organ (Hugh Rowlands) accompaniment – of salon music, folksong settings, hymns, anthems, patriotic songs and translated Gaelic songs, it’s a recital full of charm and lyrical beauty served up with consummate gracefulness. If there are no neglected masterpieces to be discovered here, these often lovely miniatures are a welcome addition to the catalogue. Prominent throughout is an admirable sensitivity to word setting and mood, qualities exquisitely conjured in engaging performances of exemplary diction. A disc of VW Christmas music from the same partnership, also on Albion, is imminent, while their recent In Remembrance on SOMM Recordings was moving and memorable. Essential for VW completists and lovers of beautifully crafted English song.
–Michael Quinn