Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download from The Classical Shop

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
A Cotswold Romance (1951) [39:52]
Death of Tintagiles (1913) [14:48]
Rosa Mannion (soprano) (Mary)
Thomas Randle (tenor) (Hugh)
Matthew Brook (baritone) (John the Butcher)
London Philharmonic Choir
London Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox
rec. 3-4 October 1997, All Saints Church, Tooting, London, England
Full English text provided
CHANDOS CHAN10728X [54:34]

Experience Classicsonline


The new commemorative Hickox Legacy series on Chandos was launched in June 2012. This leads up to and continues beyond the fifth anniversary in November 2013 of the untimely death of this much admired conductor. Prolific in the recording studio, he made an especially large number of recordings of British music. There are more than 280 recordings made during his long and fruitful association with Chandos alone. The present re-issue contains premiere recordings of two of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s lesser known and rarely performed works.
 
The two act ballad opera Hugh the Drover known alternatively asLove in the Stocks (1910-20) uses an original English libretto by Harold Child. Its first professional staging was in 1924 at His Majesty's Theatre, London. Its plot often reminded me of Smetana’s folk opera The Bartered Bride. Hugh is set in the Cotswold village of Cotsall during the Napoleonic era. Hugh, who obtains horses for the army saves Mary the daughter of the village constable from an unwanted marriage to John the Butcher whom she does not love. In the village a prize fight has been organised to settle the dispute between the two rivals and John is subsequently defeated by Hugh. In an act of revenge John accuses Hugh of being a French spy and Hugh is put in the stocks. Mary has stolen the keys from her father and frees Hugh. They hear John and his associates approaching and Mary and Hugh, who decide they can’t leave each other, both get into the stocks. A soldier recognizes Hugh as the man who once saved his life and releases him proclaiming him a loyal British subject. In a happy ending Hugh and Mary restate their love for each other and take to the open road.
 
Evidently the publishers felt that the score was not suited to concert performance. This was the thinking behind Maurice Jacobson’s collaboration with the composer. In 1951 they prepared an adaptation of the opera and called it A Cotswold Romance. It’sa cantata for tenor and soprano soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra. Lasting almost forty minutes the cantata is cast in ten sections and works extremely well as a stand-alone work.
 
Hickox selected three splendid soloists. The opening chorus Men of Cotsall is a wonderful folk-infused romp through the Cotswold village of Cotsall. Immediately one notices enthusiastic and well drilled singing from the choir. As Hugh, the tenor Thomas Randle is highly convincing singing beautifully in the appealing song Sweet Little Linnet (Hugh’s advice to Mary). I also admired Randle’s voice in the contemplative Alone and Friendless and the compellingly sung lusty Romantic ballad Song of the Road for chorus with a solo part for Hugh. Love at First Sight, the delightful duet for Mary and Hugh is performed with evident warmth. Setting the scene for the prize fight I really enjoyed martial strains of The Best Man in England for chorus and baritone. Here Matthew Brook adeptly conveys the virile aggression of John the Butcher in the prize fight. With the song Mary escapes soprano Rosa Mannion is a feisty Mary who has been disowned by her father. Mannion is delightfully expressive, singing that she stands by her love for Hugh, with the chorus adding to the near-magical atmosphere. In the final song Freedom at Last Hugh has been released from the stocks by the soldiers. It makes for a poignant scene. In the expressive duet O the sky shall be our roof and my arms your fire Randle and Mannion sing so affectionately. Once again the entry of the chorus creates a bewitching effect. 

The second work on the disc is the incidental music The Death of Tintagiles. In 1913 Vaughan Williams wrote a number of incidental scores for the theatre at Stratford mainly for Shakespearean plays namely: The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Richard II, King Henry IV - Part 2, Richard III, and Henry V but not all of it has survived. The Death of Tintagiles was written to accompany a production of the Belgium playwright Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1894 play of the same name. The plot of this peculiar tale concerns the young boy Tintagiles who is the orphaned grandson of an elderly Queen. Tintagiles is to be the future king of an unnamed Kingdom. The envious Queen expels Tintagiles to a gloomy and sinister castle where he endures terrible ordeals. Tintagiles’ two older sisters Ygraine and Bellangère, together with Aglovale their wise old warrior, try to rescue him. In the castle Ygraine tries all she can to free Tintagiles but her endeavours are in vain.
 
Cast in six episodes the score starts with a Prelude followed by five short sections with the final one split into two parts. Not surprisingly the tone in this sombre tale is of a predominantly rather dark and sorrowful hue. However given the constraints Vaughan Williams has provided imaginative and characterful music. The most important and longest section is the Prelude. This consists mainly of dark and sinister writing variegated with short spans of a folk-music character. Curiously my overall impression was that the writing felt like a cross between a Hollywood film score and the quiet nobility and murky atmosphere of the orchestral tone poem In the Fen Country. In the writing I could easily imagine a tensely disturbing scene of Tintagiles being taken across the water to the shadowy castle. The mood of heartbreaking sadness is palpable in the third section Lento - Andante tranquillo - Lento and in the Finale, Lento the darkly surging writing creates a strong sense of impending danger and tension. This morphs into heart-breaking sadness.
 
Richard Hickox does a marvellous job and creates a fresh and lyrically pastoral colour to the A Cotswold Romance. The three soloists are well suited to their roles with tinglingly fresh singing from the London Philharmonic Choir. In The Death of Tintagiles Hickox lays bare an intense emotional power that aptly reflects the score’s dark and sinister moods. Recorded in 1997 at the All Saints Church in Tooting the engineers have produced fine recorded sound quality.
 
These two works are certainly amongst the least known of RVW’s large canon of works. For this re-issue I’m surprised that Chandos has not tried to increase the appeal by splitting up these two recordings and combining them with better known works. I enjoyed hearing these scores up to a point and Hickox certainly does a sterling job but in truth this disc will appeal mainly to die-hard Vaughan Williams admirers.
 
Michael Cookson

see also reviews by Ian Lace (original release) and Rob Barnett

Vaughan Williams review index

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.