Vaughan Williams: Hodie; Fantasia on Christmas Carols

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COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Hodie; Fantasia on Christmas Carols
PERFORMER: Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Richard Lewis (tenor), John Shirley-Quirk, John Barrow (baritone); Bach Choir, Choristers of Westminster Abbey, Choir of Guildford Cathedral, LSO/David Willcocks, Barry Rose
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 67427 2 Reissue (1965, 1966)
These are Christmas works from early and late in Vaughan Williams’s career on digitally remastered reissues of recordings from the Sixties. The magical Fantasia (1912) is folk-song-based and is here performed rather prosaically in the version for strings and organ. Hodie (1954) is on a large scale, an ‘anthology’ cantata, with settings of Hardy, Herbert and Milton among others interspersed among the Biblical narration. It had a bad press when it appeared, but it is Vaughan Williams in his most lyrical mood surveying, at 82, his style as it developed from Wenlock Edge days to his ‘Antarctic’ period. The performance by David Willcocks and distinguished soloists is still the best on disc. Michael Kennedy

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