D Matthews • Vaughan Williams
Vaughan Williams: Norfolk Rhapsodies Nos 1 & 2; Music for an EFDS Masque; Variations for Orchestra; The Blue Bird – incidental music; Christmas Overture; D Matthews: Norfolk March
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Martin Yates
Dutton Epoch CDLX 7351 (hybrid CD/ SACD) 76:38 mins
At least 40 minutes – more than half this
CD – consists of first recordings: just over ten minutes of these for a new David Matthews work leaves an impressive amount of ‘new’ Vaughan Williams. Most curious is the 1913 incidental music for an apparently aborted London production of Maeterlinck’s The Blue Bird. Through the Englishman’s dreamy modal style one may hear a good deal of French influence, including vague thematic recollections of Dukas’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice – appropriate for a fantastical scenario involving dancing loaves, fire and water. But it’s not really Vaughan Williams territory, and it’s a relief to hear his authentic voice in Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1 given a good, polished performance, if rather short of atmosphere. The second Rhapsody, completed by Stephen ★ogger, is a curious piece with a foretaste of VW’S Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains.
The new David Matthews piece re-imagines a lost Vaughan Williams work, more or less following its detailed programme note. It starts with a very convincing imitation of VW’S style; but then, reflecting on the calamity of the
First World War, Matthews, as he writes in the accompanying booklet note, makes ‘a drastic change from
what Vaughan Williams would have done’, and we enter a more violent mid-20th century world.
Of the rest, VW’S Variations, arranged by Gordon Jacob, has been more excitingly recorded by Neville Marriner; and the two folk tune medleys, as edited and completed by Martin Yates, are pleasant – the Christmas Overture may make this an appropriate stocking filler. Daniel Jaffé