Folk Songs Vol. 3 – Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties; Penguin Book of English Folk Songs; Traditional Country Dances; The Motherland Song Book, Vol. 3
Mary Bevan (soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor) Roderick Williams (baritone), William Vann (piano)
Albion ALBCD044 60:01 mins
The first two releases in this four-disc series of Vaughan Williams’s folk song arrangements have been widely praised, and Volume 3 is of the same admirable standard. It’s dominated by Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties, collected in East Anglia by Vaughan Williams himself.
‘Bushes and Briars’ leads off the recital in baritone Roderick Williams’s sensitively expressive performance. Williams sings eight of the cycle’s 15 settings, and proves an infallibly engaging guide in songs as different as the blithely carefree ‘The Lark in the Morning’ and the sombre ‘The Captain’s Apprentice’.
Soprano Mary Bevan contributes two doleful tales of love thwarted, ‘A Bold Young Farmer’ and ‘Geordie’, both of which benefit from her poised, empathetic storytelling. Tenor Nicky Spence brings a more explicit plangency to ‘As I Walked Out’, while never disrespecting the plain-speaking, artless quality which gives so many folksongs their special potency. A small choir joins in the jolly renditions of the sea songs ‘We be Three Poor Mariners’ and ‘The Arethusa’ which close the recital.
William Vann’s accompaniments are a model of tact and supportiveness throughout, and he gives the Twelve Traditional Country Dances for piano just the right degree of lilt and cheerfulness.