Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01The Stage Works: Who Wants The English Composer?2008082520101101
20120116 (R3)

Donald Macleod on Vaughan Williams's first opera Hugh the Drover.

Despite his fascination with music for the stage from childhood onwards, Vaughan Williams's operas remain a neglected area of his work.

His first opera, Hugh the Drover, was influenced by his folksong collecting of the early 1900s, and the concerns expressed in his 1912 essay 'Who wants the English Composer?'.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

1/5.

Who Wants the English Composer?

Donald Macleod begins a survey of the operas of Vaughan Williams - a neglected area of his work - looking at his first opera, Hugh the Drover, influenced by his folksong collecting of the early 1900s and the concerns expressed in his 1912 essay Who Wants the English Composer?

Linden Lea

Stephen Roberts (baritone)/ Roger Vignoles (piano)

GMNCO110 - Tr 1

The Wasps Overture (excerpt)

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Adrian Boult (conductor)

EMI CDM 7 64020 2 - Tr 6

Hugh the Drover (excerpt from Act 2)

Mary....Rebecca Evans

Hugh the Drover....Bonaventura Bottone

Aunt Jane....Sarah Walker

The Constable....Richard van Allan

John the Butcher....Alan Opie

Corydon Singers

Corydon Orchestra

Matthew Best (conductor)

Hyperion CDA 66901/2 - CD 2 Trs 5-8

London Symphony (excerpt from final mvt) (orig version)

London Symphony Orchestra

Richard Hickox (conductor)

CHAN 9902 - Tr 5

Donald Macleod explores Vaughan Williams's first opera Hugh the Drover.

Despite his fascination with music for the stage from childhood onwards, Vaughan Williams's operas remain a neglected area of his work. His first opera, Hugh the Drover, was influenced by his folksong collecting of the early 1900s, and the concerns expressed in his 1912 essay 'Who wants the English Composer?'.

02The Stage Works - A Vision Of Albion2008082620101102
20120117 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores the appeal to Vaughan Williams of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

Donald Macleod charts the course of Vaughan Williams's John Bunyan odyssey, a thread which would weave itself through the whole of his creative life, and would culminate in 1951 with the premiere of his full-scale opera The Pilgrim's Progress. Presented by Donald Macleod

The pastoral episode Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains is a staging post along the course of Vaughan Williams's John Bunyan odyssey, a thread which would weave itself through the whole of his creative life, and would culminate in 1951 with the premiere of his full-scale opera The Pilgrim's Progress.

Presented by Donald Macleod.

Donald Macleod explores the appeal of John Bunyan's book The Pilgrim's Progress to Vaughan Williams, as well as the composer's view that the musical life of a country should be judged by the health of the amateur music being made and his friendship with Holst.

Since I from Love (Merciless Beauty - Chaucer rondels)

Philip Langridge (tenor)

Members of the Endellion String Quartet

EMI CDC 7 47769 2 - Tr 14

Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains

A Pilgrim....Bryn Terfel

First Shepherd....Alan Opie

Second Shepherd....Adrian Thompson

Third Shepherd....Jonathan Best

A Celestial Messenger....John Mark Ainsley

The voice of a bird....Linda Kitchen

Corydon Singers

City of London Sinfonia

Matthew Best (conductor)

Hyperion CDA66569 - Tr 6

Old King Cole (excerpt)

Bradley Creswick (violin)

The Sinfonia Chorus

Northern Sinfonia

Richard Hickox (conductor)

EMI CDC 7 49770 2 - Trs 5-8

Pastoral Symphony (excerpt from 4th mvt)

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Bernard Haitink (conductor)

EMI 5 56564 2 - Tr 4

03The Stage Works - Shakespearean Portraits2008082720101103
20120118 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores Vaughan Williams's works on Elizabethan and Tudor themes.

The experience of working with the RSC on the music for a number of plays in 1913 sowed the seeds for Vaughan Williams's Falstaffian opera Sir John in Love. This, like most of his operas, was first produced by amateurs, as opportunities for an English composer to get an opera performed were almost non-existent in the early 20th century. With Donald Macleod.

Donald Macleod looks at Vaughan Williams's works on Elizabethan and Tudor themes.

Donald Macleod looks at Vaughan Williams's works on Elizabethan and Tudor themes as well as the chequered performance history of his operas.

Was it possible that the composer may have lacked a commercial edge, given that his private wealth meant he could 'indulge his fancy' in writing operas without having to worry if they did badly at the box office? While Sir John in Love had been germinating in his mind since his stint at the RSC as a musical director in 1913, his Five Tudor Portraits were suggested to him by Elgar, who recommended Skelton's verse to him as 'pure jazz'.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

3/5.

The Stage Works - Shakespearean Portraits

Three Elizabethan partsongs: O Mistress Mine

Holst Singers

Stephen Layton (conductor)

Hyperion CDA66777 - Tr 19

Sir John in Love (excerpt from Act 4, Sc 2)

Falstaff....Raimund Herincx

Mrs Ford....Elizabeth Bainbridge

Mrs Page....Felicity Palmer

Anne Page....Wendy Eathorne

John Alldis Choir

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Meredith Davies (conductor)

EMI CMS 5 66 1232 2 - CD2 Trs 24-32

Six Studies in English Folk Song

Paul Watkins (cello)

Ian Brown (piano)

Hyperion CDA 67313 - Trs 2-7

The Tunning of Elinor Rumming (Five Tudor portraits)

Elizabeth Bainbridge (alto)

Bach Choir

David Willcocks (conductor)

EMI CDM 7 64722 2 - Tr 1

04The Stage Works - A Masterpiece And A Problem Opera2008082820101104
20120119 (R3)

Donald Macleod focuses on two completely contrasting Vaughan Williams operas.

Donald Macleod continues his survey of the stage works of Vaughan Williams, with an astonishingly bleak and intense one-act opera based on a play by J.M Synge, and a less successful "romantic extravaganza".

Donald Macleod focuses on two contrasting operas.

The tragic one-act opera Riders to the Sea, a setting of Synge's play, is about a tight-knit fishing community in Ireland where the women are left to grieve when all their men-folk have been taken by the sea.

As perhaps the most successful of all Vaughan Williams' operas, it has been called 'the English Pelleas and Melisande'.

The Poisoned Kiss, meanwhile, is a complicated fairy tale.

After more than nine years of wrangling over the libretto with Evelyn Sharp, Vaughan Williams still was not happy with it - significantly it is one of the few works in progress the composer wouldn't show to his great friend, Holst.

With Rue my Heart is Laden (Along the Field)

Ruth Golden (soprano)

Nancy Bean (violin)

Koch 3-7168-2H1 - Tr 26

Riders to the Sea (excerpt)

Maurya....Linda Finnie

Cathleen....Lynne Dawson

Nora....Ingrid Attrot

Northern Sinfonia

Richard Hickox (conductor)

CHAN 9392 - Trs 7-8

The Poisoned Kiss (excerpt from Act 3)

Empress....Anne Collins

Adrian Partington Singers

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

CHAN 10120 - CD 2 Trs 14 to 21

Job (excerpt)

London Symphony Orchestra

Adrian Boult (conductor)

EMI CDM 7 69710 - Trs 7-9

05 LASTThe Stage Works - The Labour Of A Lifetime2008082920101105

Donald Macleod looks at Vaughan Williams during the Second World War, including his work on what became obsession throughout his life - his musical treatment of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Tired: Simon Keenlyside (baritone)

Graham Johnson (piano)

Naxos 8.557114 - Tr 5

Epithalamion (excerpt)

Stephen Roberts (baritone)

The Bach Choir

London Philharmonic Orchestra

David Willcocks (conductor)

EMI CDC 7 47769 2 - Tr 8-11

The lake in the mountains

Ian Brown (piano)

Hyperion CDA67313 - Tr 1

Fifth symphony (excerpt from 2nd mvt)

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Andrew Davis (conductor)

Warner 2564 61730-2 CD 3 - Tr 7

Pilgrim's Progress (excerpt from Act 2, Sc 2)

The Pilgrim....John Noble

Apollyon....Robert Lloyd

London Philharmonic Choir

Adrian Boult (conductor)

EMI CMS 7642122 CD 1

Donald Macleod looks at Vaughan Williams during World War II, including Pilgrim's Progress

Donald Macleod looks at the Vaughan Williams's experiences during the Second World War, and his work on what became an idée fixe throughout his life, his musical treatment of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.