COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams
WORKS: A Cotswold Romance; The Death of Tintagiles
PERFORMER: Rosa Mannion (soprano), Thomas Randle (tenor), Matthew Brook (bar); London Philharmonic Choir, LSO/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9646
The Vaughan Williams operas have been deplorably neglected by our national companies, but those who know them will maintain their faith. The cantata A Cotswold Romance (1951) was compiled from his first opera, Hugh the Drover (1914-24). This has received two fine recordings, which the cantata complements by presenting some of the music as an introductory selection. The arrangement reduces the cast to three voices with chorus, the latter gaining a stronger profile than before. On its own terms the work is particularly enjoyable, packed full of memorable tunes, and containing a full range of expression.
Richard Hickox, whose dedication to the VW cause is second to none, directs a vivid performance, with splendid support from his assembled forces. Mannion and Randle are pleasing soloists, and the recording has admirable clarity, though the perspective lacks depth at climaxes.
The sound, like the music, is wonderfully atmospheric in the incidental music The Death of Tintagiles, which VW composed in 1913 for a production of Maeterlinck’s play. The story concerns the tragic fate of a child, and the musical style is suitably dark and sensitive.
Although not major works, these are notable additions to the catalogue, and the performances could hardly be better. Terry Barfoot