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<<  -- 3 --  Patric Standford    Reflective modality


Vaughan Williams (into whose group of student colleagues Rubbra was absorbed after the death of Holst, his teacher at the Royal College) is represented agreeably with less familiar songs. Silent Noon, a setting of D G Rossetti from 1902, is placed with middle and late songs that seem to show less change in musical personality than do those of Rubbra. After three symphonies there appeared Four Poems, settings of words by his niece Fredegond Shove, first heard in London in 1925 -- the sort of atmospheric writing with which RVW excelled. The Four Last Songs were published posthumously, and the poems are by his wife Ursula. They had married in 1953, and the following year they began two cycles of songs of which these four were the only completed at his death. Ursula's passion for Greece, enhanced by their joint reading of The Odyssey that summer, produced both words and music. It is intriguing that Ravel should seem to look over their shoulders for a moment as, during one day, they together wrote Menelaus [listen -- track 4, 0:02-1:01].

At the piano in this extremely rewarding recital, perfect for a late summer evening, is David Mason, and he includes Rubbra's Eight Preludes, spread in pairs throughout the songs. Written in 1966, and first performed that year by the composer at Cheltenham, they represent something relatively rare and powerful in the output of a composer who was a fine pianist. No 3 is over within a minute, a delicate climbing contrapuntal flower [listen -- track 13, 0:02-0:45], and No 8 is the most vigorous music of the recital [listen -- track 26, 0:00-0:52]. Mark Chambers and his colleagues have brought together a notable collection of songs in beautifully controlled and devoted performances, a CD that richly deserves to be savoured by lovers of British song.

Copyright © 2 September 2001 Patric Standford, West Yorkshire, UK






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