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Ralph Vaughan Williams: Discoveries

Compact Disc (Audio)
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Ralph Vaughan Williams: Discoveries
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Discoveries


All the works on this Albion Records album from Maida Vale Studios in 2015 are world-premières. Roderick Williams and Jennifer Johnstone give outstanding performances with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. This best-selling CD was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2017.

Discoveries offers an insight into Ralph Vaughan Williams as a visionary, as a romantic, as a patriot and as a lover. What unites these works is that living composers - Anthony Payne, Adrian Williams and Philip Lane - have been involved in realising them in their present form.

Roderick Williams OBE encompasses a wide repertoire and is also a composer. He also features on ALB001 Vaughan Williams: The Sky shall be our Roof and on ALBCD002 Vaughan Williams: Kissing her Hair. Jennifer Johnstone was named by both BBC Music Magazine and the Observer as 'a rising star'. She features on ALBCD029 Vaughan Williams: Purer than Pearl. Martyn Brabbins is known for his affinity with music of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. In 2012 he conducted ENO's production of Vaughan Williams's The Pilgrim's Progress at the Coliseum, London and has subsequently become ENO's Music Director.


Discoveries don't come much more rewarding than Vaughan Williams's Three Nocturnes. Dating from 1908, they are settings of his favourite poet Walt Whitman. Now Anthony Payne has orchestrated the two not orchestrated by Vaughan Williams - and a marvellous job he has done, too, bringing out every adventurous facet of this often astonishingly forward-looking music. Payne's consummate understanding of the idiom is also evident in the deeply touching Four Last Songs. Roderick Williams and Jennifer Johnston are on stellar form, while Martyn Brabbins and the BBC SO give of their very best both here and in two purely orchestral offerings. Of the 11 film scores that Vaughan Williams penned between 1940 and 1956, only one was lost: Stricken Peninsula is a short propaganda film from 1945 about the Allied Armies' aid efforts in southern Italy, and Philip Lane has fashioned some of the best ideas he was able to hear behind the narration on the original soundtrack into an eight-minute 'Italian Rhapsody'. A Road All Paved with Stars: this sumptuous 27-minute symphonic essay by Adrian Williams does ample justice to its source material's soaring lyricism and tender warmth. --Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, November 2016

This release provides further evidence that Brabbins is a Vaughan Williams interpreter of real distinction. Roderick Williams, with his focused and colorful baritone, is the perfect choice for this first recording of the completed set of Nocturnes. Jennifer Johnston, who, with her rich mezzo and perceptive word-pointing brought tears to the eyes of Ursula Vaughan Williams when she performed the Four Last Songs with piano in 2004, does the same for us here. This all is music of transporting loveliness, and this release could not be more warmly welcomed. --Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare Magazine, (Jan/Feb 2017)


  1. Name
  2. Vaughan Williams: Three Nocturnes I Smile O Voluptuous Cool-Breathd Earth
  3. Vaughan Williams: Three Nocturnes II Whispers of Heavenly Death
  4. Vaughan Williams: Three Nocturnes III Out of the Rolling Ocean
  5. Vaughan Williams: A Road all Paved with Stars
  6. Vaughan Williams: Stricken Peninsula
  7. Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs: Procris
  8. Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs: Tired
  9. Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs: Hands, Eyes and Heart
  10. Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs: Menelaus
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