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Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
From Vaughan Williams’ Attic - Ralph Vaughan Williams’ personal collection
The Wasps – overture (1909) [8:01]
Old King Cole – a ballet (1923) [15:14]
Aeolian Orchestra/Ralph Vaughan Williams
rec. Autumn 1925
A Flourish for the Coronation (1937) [12:08]
Philharmonic Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
rec. Queen’s Hall, 1 April 1937 (from acetate discs)
Serenade to Music (1938) [13:57]
Isobel Baillie, Stiles Allen, Elsie Suddaby, Eva Turner, Margaret Balfour, Muriel Brunskill, Astra Desmond, Mary Jarred, Parry Jones, Heddle Nash, Frank Titterton, Walter Widdop, Norman Allin, Robert Easton, Roy Henderson, Harold Williams
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Henry Wood (conductor)
rec. Studio no.1, Abbey Road, London, 15 October 1938
Thanksgiving for Victory (A Song of Thanksgiving) (1944) [15:19]
Elsie Suddaby (soprano); Valentine Dyall (speaker); BBC Chorus, Choir of Children from the Thomas Coram Schools; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. 5 November 1944 (first broadcast 13 May 1945)
Scott of the Antarctic (1951) [8:13] (Prologue; Pony March; Penguins; Climbing the Glacier; Return; Blizzard; Final Music;
Margaret Ritchie (soprano)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Ernest Irving
rec. 20 December 1948
from 78s: Vocalion A0249 (Wasps); A0247-48 (Cole); acetate (Flourish); Columbia LX757-58 (Serenade); broadcast recording (Thanksgiving); HMV C3834 (Scott)
DUTTON CDBP 9790 [73:02]

Experience Classicsonline

Not quite as exciting as the title suggests. We can hope for real rarities but we are not going to get them. RVW was given many recordings of his own music but poor playing equipment and the ravages wrought by time, moves and poor damp storage has made much of this esoterica beyond commercial rescue. Sad! Instead we are treated here to tracks which have their own value and fascination but most of which have previously been issued by Pearl, Symposium or EMI. The exception, which I know from a private tape, is the 13 minute Beecham-conducted A Flourish for a Coronation.
A zesty overture to The Wasps and the Old King Cole tracks are the earliest examples - acoustic process. They are also the only recordings here to be conducted by the composer. The Aeolian Orchestra was specially formed for the Vocalion series. The same orchestra also recorded McEwen's Solway Symphony which was once issued by Pearl on a limited circulation LP. It was re-recorded by Chandos for their superb modern McEwen series in the early 1990s. Old King Cole can be counted in the company of Holst’s Morning of the Year - examples of music written to accommodate community folk-dancing which had become a fad in the 1920s. A Flourish was written, like Walton’s Te Deum, for the 1937 Coronation. This is dynamic and celebratory RVW and well worth the discovery. The Serenade is very well known indeed having been reissued time after time. Always good to hear again. Thanksgiving for Victory was commissioned well before VE Day ready to be used when the then inevitable victory came about. The piece is familiar from a commercial issue in which there is a different orator (Robert Speaight rather than Valentine Dyall) which has appeared on EMI Classics before now with the Sixth Symphony. It can also be heard on another Dutton disc. There’s also another modern Hyperion version in which Gielgud is the speaker. The Scott of the Antarctic film music is represented by seven movements. This particular recording has appeared several times on Pearl CDs (review; review).
These recordings are documents of three decades of audio-technical history. Two of them are from broadcaster acetates not originally intended for commercial issue; A Flourish and Thanksgiving for Victory.
Many of these will be familiar from previous anthologies but this collection has never appeared together before.
The note is by that ambassadorial authority of the British musical renaissance, Lewis Foreman. He always brings a new and stimulating twist to the subject. Pity though about the typo on Vocalion.

Rob Barnett



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