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Vaughan Williams: Serenade; Suite for Four Hands etc

David Briggs (organ); Tredegar Town Band et al (Albion)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Vaughan Williams
Serenade (arr. organ); Suite for Four Hands*; Folksong arrangements etc
Mary Bevan (soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor), William Vann, *Charles Matthews, *Lynn Arnold (piano), Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea/William Vann; David Briggs (organ); Tredegar Town Band et al
Albion ALBCD053   66:55 mins

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No company has done more for Vaughan Williams studies than Albion Records, releasing over 40 recordings of his music, much of it unfamiliar, in the last 13 years. This latest is a compilation marking the composer’s 150th birthday, and also a celebration of the label’s indefatigable curiosity about all things RVW.

Most of the 16 pieces included are new recordings, and bite-size in dimensions. Tredegar Town Band opens proceedings with a gleaming Flourish for Three Trumpets, and interjects two pairs of Cambridge Flourishes for Four Trumpets later in the programme. Tredegar also contributes a warmly affectionate arrangement of Two Herefordshire Carols, with Ian Porthouse conducting. Organist David Briggs features most prominently, not least in his roisterous transcription of ‘March Past of The Kitchen Utensils’ from The Wasps. Briggs also contributes his own arrangement of the well-known Serenade to Music, shorn of its vocal parts but sounding splendidly colourful on the Truro Cathedral organ.

There is song too. Soprano Mary Bevan distils a gentle melancholy in ‘She’s like the swallow’, while tenor Nicky Spence finds plangency in ‘Now the winter’s gone and past’. Both are sensitively accompanied by William Vann, who also conducts the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in a clutch of hymn tunes, including ‘For All the Saints’ and the concluding ‘God be with you till we meet again’.

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Terry Blain