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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    




SCORE REVIEW

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
The Early Chamber Music

Piano Quintet in C minor for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass (1903) [30'30]
Nocturne and Scherzo for string quintet (1906) [10'18]
String Quartet in C minor (1898) [25'27]
Quintet in D major for clarinet, horn, violin, cello and piano (1898) [24'50]
Scherzo for string quintet (1904) [5'57]
FABER MUSIC


AVAILABILITY
Faber, 3 Queen Square, London
www.fabermusic.com


These four scores comprise 2 A4 format scores for the String Quartet and the Nocturne and Scherzo and Scherzo (both for string quintet) and a slightly larger format for the score and parts for the two quintets.

Introductory notes in each score come, with the highest authority, from Michael Kennedy.

At the composerís death in 1958 there was a wish that these works of a young composer aged between 26 and 34 should not be performed. They have lain in the British Library since that date. Now the composerís widow has agreed to their being made available. The works have already been performed by the RCM Chamber Ensemble sat the British Library Conference Centre on 20 February 2001. It is timely that these scores were published at pretty well the same time as the issue of a Hyperion double CD including these works. Without that set I would not have been able to tell you much beyond praising the exemplary printing quality and practical Ďlay-flatí design of these scores.

Your expectations in the case of these chamber works need to be tempered to reflect the fact that they are early works predating Towards the Unknown Region and A Sea Symphony each of which carries a whiff of Stanford and a larger helping of Parry.

My fearful expectations of a Brahmsian brew were misplaced in the case of the Piano Quintet. In fact the music is cast in a mould rather similar to Howells' piano quartet of some ten years later - exultant and surging with romantic power. There is a Parryesque quality here which I can best compare with that composerís First Symphony (William Boughton's long-vanished Nimbus recording represents the work best). The quintet ends in confident understatement rather than romantic exclamation.

The earliest work is the String Quartet of 1898. Michael Kennedy has suggested similarities with DvořŠk and I would not disagree although I would add that there is a Mozartian steadiness and dignity about the writing too. This piece offers a fascinating insight but is by no means de rigueur for RVW partisans.

Brahmsian expectations or fears are soundly delivered in the case of the D Major Quintet. This is a work that would pair rather well with the Brahmsian delights of John Ireland's Sextet. The wittily well-pointed Intermezzo is succeeded by the sentiment-heavy Andantino and the flighty and flirtatious bustle of the finale. The work ends with a regal flourish.

The 1904 Scherzo for string quintet seethes with brusque energy counter-pointed by an appealingly Brahmsian second subject - lilting and aristocratic. The bipartite Nocturne and Scherzo is much more folk-inflected with a moving Nocturne that for me carries hints Scandinavian nights. The Scherzo buzzes with Mendelssohnian tension.

It is a feather in Faber Musicís cap that they have secured the rights to publish these scores which often in equal measure will delight as well as cast light on the early rise to maturity of a composer of international standing. Easily recommendable to the composerís many enthusiasts world-wide.

Rob Barnett

Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Early Works

String Quartet in C minor (1898)
Score (0-571-52085-5) £8.95
Set of parts (0-571-52176-2) £16.96

Quintet in D major (1898)
for clarinet, horn, violin, cello and piano
Piano score and parts (0-571-51983-0) £24.95

Piano Quintet in C minor (1903)
for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano
Piano score and parts (0-571-51953-9) £24.95

Nocturne and Scherzo (1906) with Scherzo (1904)
for string quintet ( violins, 2 violas and cello)
Score (0-571-51993-8) £8.95
Set of parts (0-571-52175-4) £16.95

Available from FM Distribution:

Burnt Mill
Elizabeth Way
Harlow
CM20 2HX

tel. 01279 828982
fax. 01279 828983
email: sales@fabermusic.com
or buy online at www.fabermusic.com


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