Con­tinue the jour­ney…

We sug­gest works to ex­plore a er VW’S A Pas­toral Sym­phony

BBC Music Magazine - - Building A Library -

WNo work sounds as eerily pre­scient as But­ter­worth’s A Shrop­shire Lad

hen Vaughan Wil­liams wrote his three Nor­folk Rhap­sodies in the first decade of the 20th cen­tury, he ini­tially had a larger-scale Nor­folk Sym­phony in mind. The sym­phony never ma­te­ri­alised and the score of the Third Rhap­sody has since been lost. El­e­ments of the First, how­ever, give an inkling of what would come in A Pas­toral Sym­phony, from the broad or­ches­tral land­scapes to the haunt­ing trum­pet solo to­wards the end of the piece.

(Lso/richard Hickox Chan­dos CHAN 10001)

Arthur Bliss was greatly af­fected by World War I – as well as do­ing ser­vice him­self, he also suf­fered the loss of his brother, Kennard. Bliss would later re­flect his wartime ex­pe­ri­ences in works such as Morn­ing Heroes, but a closer con­tem­po­rary of VW’S A Pas­toral Sym­phony is his A Colour Sym­phony, writ­ten for the Three Choirs Fes­ti­val in 1922. Proms fans may recog­nise the jaunty fan­fare at the end of the se­cond move­ment – it was used to in­tro­duce BBC TV cov­er­age un­til 2011 – but it is the brood­ing first and third move­ments that are closer in char­ac­ter to VW’S work. (English North­ern Phi­lar­mo­nia/ David Lloyd-jones Naxos 8.553460) You can’t miss the in­flu­ence of Vaughan Wil­liams on the work of

EJ Mo­eran, an­other com­poser who fought in World War I. Both were avid col­lec­tors of folk mu­sic, though it is also the beaches of Nor­folk and hills of County Kerry that dom­i­nate the mu­si­cal land­scape of Mo­eran’s 1934 Sym­phony in G. (Ul­ster Orches­tra/ Ver­non Han­d­ley Chan­dos CHAN 10169X) No work sounds more eerily pre­scient than A Shrop­shire Lad – Rhap­sody by Ge­orge But­ter­worth, Vaughan Wil­liams’s great friend who was killed at the Somme. The Hous­man po­etry that in­spired But­ter­worth to write his song cy­cle and sub­se­quent or­ches­tral rhap­sody in fact tells of the Boer War, but this al­ready bleak work is given an added edge by the fate of its com­poser. (Hallé/mark

El­der Hallé CDHLL7503)

Re­flec­tions on the US Civil War are heard in John Adams’s The Wound Dresser, which sets Walt Whit­man’s po­etry about serv­ing as a hospi­tal vol­un­teer. Though it is a rel­a­tively re­cent work, much of the sound­world harks back to what Vaughan Wil­liams and his peers might have con­jured up. (Nathan Gunn et al Naxos 8.559031)

Deep re­flec­tions: Arthur Bliss lost a brother in World War I

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