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Ralph Vaughan Williams: Beyond my Dream (Music for Greek Plays)

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This Albion Records January 2018 world première release from St Jude's Church, Hampstead, is of Vaughan Williams's 1911 settings of choruses from English translations of Greek plays, sung by mezzo soprano Heather Lowe, with Joyful Company of Singers conducted by Alan Tongue.

"something of undeniable beauty." The Globe, 25 May 1912

In 1911, RVW wrote music for three plays by Euripides, then newly translated into English verse by Gilbert Murray. He wrote music for mezzo soprano, female chorus and orchestra that he considered worthy of the plays, while also satisfying the requirements of Isadora Duncan (for dancing) and Gilbert Murray (who was anxious that the music should not overwhelm the poetry). Whether experimental or not, Murray finally concluded that he liked it very much.

Heather Lowe, studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio. She was a Finalist in the Maureen Lehane Competition is a Samling Scholar and a trained ballet and ballroom dancer. Alan Tongue has been conducting English music abroad for over twenty years. His Vaughan Williams conducting includes The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains and Sir John in Love. He also conducts on ALBCD020 Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass and on ALBCD025/026 Fair Child of Beauty.


Here's yet another hugely enterprising rescue-act from Albion Records, this time on behalf of nearly 63 minutes' worth of incidental music that Vaughan Williams penned in 1911 for three plays by Euripides. They make absolutely fascinating listening, not least for those countless fleeting premonitions of the towering masterpieces to come. These dedicated and scrupulously prepared performances under Tongue's watchful lead, Andrew Walton's top-notch production and Albion's copiously detailed presentation are all absolutely beyond reproach, and the disc as a whole must be deemed an essential acquisition for every true RVW aficionado. --Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone Magazine

The performances are presented in immaculate sound and the documentation is, as always with this label, comprehensive and authoritative. The notes contain not only a significant amount of background information about the music and how it came to be composed; there is also a good succinct summary of each play which sets VW's music in context. This is an important release of hitherto unknown music by Vaughan Williams. --John Quinn, Musicweb International

The choral scene, "O for the Ships of Troy," is the finest example of this experiment, a powerful piece of dramatic choral writing that leaves one wanting more. Tongue offers a compelling first impression of a previously unknown score. He shapes these scores brilliantly, with conviction and obvious affection, leading glowing performances by the Britten Sinfonia and the women of Peter Broadbent's Joyful Company of Singers. The mezzo-soprano roles are taken by young artist Heather Lowe, in her debut recording. She is possessor of a voice of extraordinary depth and appealing colour and has marvellous dramatic instincts. --Ronald E. Grames (from an independent review for publication in the Journal of The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society).

The performances here are perfection itself. Mezzo-soprano Heather Lowe is definitely a singer to watch for: a classic English voice in her range of richness, depth, and plangent beauty, impeccably produced. This is a model production that deserves, nay demands, acquisition by every lover of the composer's music; enthusiastically and emphatically recommended. --James A. Altena, Fanfare Magazine


  1. Name
  2. Vaughan Williams: The Bacchae: Thou Immaculate on High
  3. Vaughan Williams: Electra I. Onward O Labouring Tread
  4. Vaughan Williams: Electra II. O for the Ships of Troy
  5. Vaughan Williams: Iphigenia in Tauris I. Prelude
  6. Vaughan Williams: Iphigenia in Tauris II. Dark of the Sea
  7. Vaughan Williams: Iphigenia in Tauris III. Bird of the Sea Rocks
  8. Vaughan Williams: Iphigenia in Tauris IV. O, Fair the Fruits of Leto Blow
  9. Vaughan Williams: Iphigenia in Tauris V. Go Forth in Bliss
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