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Spirited Performance

Festive music by
Vaughan Williams
reviewed by
PATRIC STANDFORD


Naxos    8.570439

Vaughan Williams: Hodie; Fantasia on Christmas Carols. Guildford Choral Society / RPO / Hilary Davan Wetton. © 2007 Naxos Rights International Ltd

The Guildford choir serve Vaughan Williams well in their spirited performance of the extended cantata that he completed in 1954 when he was 82 -- a remarkably youthful and buoyant achievement, though those who knew him well were not surprised! It is a well shaped hour of music ranging from solo and choral songs [listen -- track 6, 0:00-0:39], a hymn, a lullaby, a pastoral and a series of linking 'narrations' which tell the story of Christmas and are, in fact, commentaries sung by a children's choir -- a part taken commendably on this recording by St Catherine's School Middle Chamber Choir [listen -- track 9, 0:04-0:26].

The hymn Bright portals of the sky is a tenor solo (Peter Hoare) heralded by trumpets [listen -- track 13, 0:01-1:16] and the soprano Janice Watson sounds well in the song It was the winter wild. Stephen Gadd is a rather less convincing baritone, and also features as the single soloist in the short Fantasia on Christmas Carols, written over forty years earlier [listen -- track 1, 0:31-1:53] and again the Guildford Choral Society are rewarding to hear.

This is a pleasant enough addition to the RVW collection, though not altogether as outstanding as hoped.

Copyright © 16 December 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK

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Vaughan Williams: Hodie

8.570439 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 71'00" 2007 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Janice Watson, soprano; Peter Hoare, tenor; Stephen Gadd, baritone; Guildford Choral Society; St Catherine's School Middle Chamber Choir; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Clio Gould, leader; Hilary Davan Wetton, conductor

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958): Fantasia on Christmas Carols; Hodie (This Day) (Prologue: Nowell! Nowell!; Narration: Now is the birth of Jesus Christ; Song: It was the winter wild; Narration: And it came to pass in those days; Choral: The blessed son of God; Narration: And there were in the same country; Song: The Oxen; Narration: And the shepherds returned; Pastoral: The shepherds sing; Narration: But Mary kept all these things; Lullaby: Sweet was the song the Virgin sang; Hymn: Bright portals of the sky; Narration: Now when Jesus was born; The March of the Three Kings: From kingdoms of wisdom; Choral: No sad thought his soul affright; Epilogue: In the beginning was the Word)

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