Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge

This page lists all recordings of On Wenlock Edge, by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) on CD, SACD & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

Cycle of 6 songs for tenor with accompaniment of piano and string quartet. Words by Houseman from A Shropshire Lad. Orchestral version exists and also version for tenor and orchestra.

Recommendations

Choral & Song Choice
May 2008
First Choice
March 2001
Rosette

All recordings

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Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge & Ten Blake Songs

Vaughan Williams: On Wenlock Edge & Ten Blake Songs


Dove:

The End

Nicholas Daniel (cor anglais)

Britten Sinfonia (members), Jacqueline Shave

Vaughan Williams:

On Wenlock Edge

Britten Sinfonia (members), Huw Watkins (piano)

Ten Blake Songs

Nicholas Daniel (oboe)

Warlock:

The Curlew

Nicholas Daniel (cor anglais)

Britten Sinfonia (members), Jacqueline Shave


Mark Padmore (tenor)

Fresh from his triumph in the Glyndebourne 'Billy Budd', star tenor Mark Padmore is joined by members of Britten Sinfonia in 3 quintessentially British song-cycles: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 'On Wenlock Edge', with pianist Huw Watkins; 'Ten Blake Songs' with oboist Nicholas Daniel; and Peter Warlock’s best-known work, 'The Curlew'. 'The End' by Jonathan Dove (a co-commission by Britten Sinfonia and Wigmore Hall) receives its world première recording here.

British composer Jonathan Dove (b. 1959) made the following remarks on the genesis of his new work, 'The End' (2012), with support from the 'Tenner for a Tenor' campaign.

"When I heard Mark Strand read his poem ‘The End’ to a small gathering of artists in Italy a few years ago, I was moved – and also felt immediately that it was a poem that could be sung. I hoped that one day I might have the chance to set it to music. I did not know exactly what the music would sound like, but I imagined a solo voice with several instruments.

Britten Sinfonia gave me the opportunity to make this wish come true, by inviting me to write something for Mark Padmore to sing, with instrumentation to match Warlock’s 'The Curlew'. String quartet with two solo wind instruments seemed the perfect combination to suggest the gentle rocking motion of the ship slipping into darkness, and perhaps hear birds suspended in flight."

“This is a reflective, beautifully delivered recital of English song much concerned with death, its nature well suited to this tenor’s mellifluously lyrical, emotionally intense music-making.” Sunday Times, 29th September 2013

“This is an extremely fine disc. Mark Padmore’s singing is technically beyond reproach and his eloquence is telling in all four works on the programme. At every turn he finds superb partners in the members of Britten Sinfonia...this new release is one of the finest discs of English song to have come my way in a long time.” MusicWeb International, 1st November 2013

“Dove's musical nightscape shifts slowly and slightly...The same vocal simplicity and white timbre that chafes so tellingly at the smugness of Blake's Innocence poems (aided there by exquisite solo oboe) also works well here for Padmore, never blurring the clarity of the composer's melodic architecture.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2013

“Edge, rather than lyrical elegance, is Mark Padmore's expressive strength, combined with his superb diction...I've never heard [the Blake Songs] come across so convincingly...Lavish praise too for the wonderful playing of the Britten Sinfonia...I shall be coming back to this.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 ****

“Many of Blake’s finest, most condensed verse utterances are here, Innocence and Experience nestling side by side: darkness is ever-present, as we move for instance from the Sunflower- and then to the comforting ‘Divine Image’. Ten Blake Songs is a bleak masterpiece and Padmore and Daniel are exceptional… This fine release earns plaudits on every front” International Record Review, November 2013

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Solo Vocal

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Harmonia Mundi - HMU807566

(SACD)

$13.25

(also available to download from $11.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Peter Pears – The Decca Premieres

Peter Pears – The Decca Premieres


Britten:

Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, Op. 31

Peter Pears (tenor) & Dennis Brain (horn)

Boyd Neel Orchestra, Benjamin Britten

Down by the Salley Gardens

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

Little Sir William

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

Oliver Cromwell

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

The Ash Grove

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

The Bonny Earl o' Moray

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

Heigh ho! Heigh hi!

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

Sweet Polly Oliver

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

There's none to soothe

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

Five French Folksong arrangements

Sophie Wyss (soprano), Benjamin Britten (piano)

Vaughan Williams:

On Wenlock Edge

Peter Pears (tenor) & Benjamin Britten (piano)

Zorian String Quartet

Warlock:

Corpus Christi

Peter Pears (tenor) & Ann Wood (contralto)

BBC Chorus, Leslie Woodgate


On 24 June 1936, Peter Pears joined his BBC Singers colleague, contralto Anne Wood, at Decca’s studio in Upper Thames Street in the City of London to make his very first commercial recording, of Peter Warlock’s setting of the Corpus Christi carol for unaccompanied voices. The year marked a turning-point for Pears: he met Benjamin Britten that April at the International Society for Contemporary Music festival in Barcelona, joined a vocal group, the New English Singers, and set off on his first trip to North America, on tour with them in November. This Warlock premiere makes its first ever appearance on Decca CD.

Of course, Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings is inextricably linked with Pears as well as with Dennis Brain, and marks one of the most important of all Decca premieres, particularly given the label’s association with both Britten and Pears. But also of interest are the recorded premieres of Britten’s British and French folk song arrangements by Pears (British folk songs) and the Swiss soprano Sophie Wyss (French folk songs) in the 1940s. All of these make their first appearance on Decca CD, the Sophie Wyss recordings added as a sort of ‘bonus’ midway through the (Pears) CD.

Vaughan Williams’s cycle On Wenlock Edge focuses more on the middle register of Pears’s voice (unlike the upper reaches in Britten’s Serenade). As with the Britten cycle, the first appearances of these recordings received glowing praise in the music press.

“[it] is performed by them with a perfection that must have made the composer feel that his every intention has been realised. Dennis Brain’s tone is ravishingly beautiful, and – one out of many points of superb technical skill – the way he plays the high note near the end of the Prologue and Epilogue leaves one speechless with admiration” … “Dennis Brain – well, he was incomparable, that's all” Gramophone Magazine (Britten: Serenade)

“a most lovely piece of singing … ‘[his] clear diction and sense of word values ensures that justice is done to both poetry and music’” Gramophone Magazine (Vaughan Williams)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4805055

(CD)

$8.75

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams


Vaughan Williams:

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Sinfonia of London, Sir John Barbirolli

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Sinfonia of London, Sir John Barbirolli

The Wasps Overture

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley

The Lark Ascending

Sarah Chang (violin)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink

Flos Campi

Christopher Balmer

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, Vernon Handley

Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus'

Jacques Orchestra, Sir David Willcocks

Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1

New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

On Wenlock Edge

Ian Partridge

Music Group of London

Silent Noon

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, David Willison

Songs of Travel

Anthony Rolfe Johnson, David Willison

Serenade to Music

(original version with 16 soloists)

Norma Burrowes, Sheila Armstrong, Susan Longfield, Marie Hayward (soprano), Alfreda Hodgson, Gloria Jennings, Shirley Minty, Meriel Dickinson (contralto), Ian Partridge, Bernard Dickerson, Wynford Evans, Kenneth Bowen (tenor), Richard Angas, John Carol Case, John Noble & Christopher Keyte (bass)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult


Now rightfully acknowledged as a towering figure, Vaughan Williams was the first composer to write in the English language, using folksong in the Norfolk Rhapsody, a Tudor hymn in the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and absorbing and transforming his influences in the stunningly beautiful Serenade to Music.

During the 16th and 17th centuries England had been a leading participant in the delevopment of European music, but after the early death of Purcell in 1695, music in England came to be dominated by musicians of foreign origin: notably Handel and Mendelssohn. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is the best-known of a new generation of composers that came after Elgar and made up what became known as the English Musical Renaissance. Along with Gustav Holst, Vaughan Williams travelled the country collecting and preserving English folksong traditions, and was largely responsible for the revival of interest in folksong. So strong was his interest in the subject that, like Holst, folksong was absorbed into his compositional style and was to influence his concert music, giving it a uniquely English quality. Starting with the evocative Thomas Tallis Fantasia, (RVW's look back at his great 16th-century predecessor) this set contains some of the composer's best-known and most-loved music, including the popular Fantasia on Greensleeves and the beautiful Lark Ascending.

Warner Classics 20th Century Classics - 6279102

(CD - 2 discs)

$9.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams

Anniversary Collectors Edition


Vaughan Williams:

On Wenlock Edge

George Maran, Ivor Newton (piano)

London String Quartet

Old King Cole

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

A Song of Thanksgiving

Betty Dolemore (soprano), Robert Speaight (narrator), Harry Gabb (organ)

Luton Choral Society, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

Serenade to Music

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Henry Wood


“Massachusetts-born George Maran's 1955 Decca recording of On Wenlock Edge… an uncommonly sensitive and intimate rendering… there's no disputing the intoxicating spell cast by dedicatee Sir Henry Wood's October 1938 Columbia recording of the sublime Serenade to Music.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2008

“The sole CD premiere is the 1955 On Wenlock Edge by George Maran, a German-based American tenor - pleasant-toned enough but distinctly previous in enunciation, no match for Pears/Britten, or more recent versions.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2008 ***

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Alto - ALC1025

(CD)

$6.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

On Wenlock Edge

On Wenlock Edge


Bliss:

Elegiac Sonnet

Gurney:

Ludlow and Teme

Vaughan Williams:

On Wenlock Edge

Warlock:

The Curlew


James Gilchrist (tenor), Anna Tilbrook (piano), Michael Cox (flute), Gareth Hulse (cor anglais)

Fitzwilliam String Quartet

“Gilchrist's bright, ringing tenor voice is compelling from the first note, but it's the range of expression and unaffected musicality that leave the lasting impression” BBC Music Magazine

“...invigorating stuff from the off, and far from the pastoral legato of some other interpretations...Gilchrist’s no-nonsense vocal style meets the folk-based contours of the music with a convincing respect – his vowels more fluid and natural than some in the English tenor tradition, and his delivery all the more vivid for it.” Andrew Mellor, bbc.co.uk, 5th July 2007

“…a wonderfully imaginative account of On Wenlock Edge and The Curlew. The developing tale of Bredon Hill has never been more vividly told on records, and the desolation of Warlock's masterpiece becomes more poignant still because of the beauty evoked. ...Gurney's Housman cycle has also its finest performance on record. Strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2007

GGramophone Awards 2008

Finalist - Solo Vocal

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Up to 20% off SACDs

Linn - CKD296

(SACD)

Normally: $14.25

Special: $12.11

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams


Vaughan Williams:

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1

The Lark Ascending

Sarah Chang (violin)

In the Fen Country

On Wenlock Edge

Ian Bostridge (tenor)


Building a Library

First Choice - May 2002

Warner Classics British Composers - 5851512

(CD)

$6.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

The English Song Series Volume 3 - Vaughan Williams 1

The English Song Series Volume 3 - Vaughan Williams 1


Vaughan Williams:

Searching for Lambs

Whispers of Heavenly Death (No. 2 from Three Whitman Nocturnes)

Joy, Shipmate, Joy!

Lord, come away

Come Love, come Lord

Five Mystical Songs

On Wenlock Edge

Dirge for Fidele

It was a Lover and his Lass

The Lawyer

The splendour falls

The Water Mill

Tired

Silent Noon


“Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Simon Keenlyside both have ideal voices for this repertoire - the performances are deeply felt.” David Smith, Presto Classical, June 2014

Naxos English Song Series - 8557114

(CD)

$7.00

(also available to download from $7.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 and other works

Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 and other works


Vaughan Williams:

Symphony No. 4 in F minor

Symphony No. 5 in D major

On Wenlock Edge

Peter Pears (tenor)

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Symphony No. 3 'A Pastoral Symphony'


Pearl - GEMS0062

(CD - 2 discs)

$23.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Vaughan Williams: Songs

Vaughan Williams: Songs


Vaughan Williams:

Merciless Beauty

Searching for Lambs

Ten Blake Songs

Along the Field

On Wenlock Edge

The Lawyer


“The programme here has an identity of its own and as such is without competitors. Its 'theme' is to collect those of Vaughan Williams's songs which have something other than piano accompaniment.
On Wenlock Edge (1909) is for voice, piano and string quartet, Merciless Beauty (1921) with string trio, Along the Field (1927) and TwoEnglish Folksongs (published 1935 but of earlier date) voice and violin, and the Blake songs (1957) with oboe. Eligible for inclusion might have been Four Hymns (1914) with piano and viola, and perhaps The Willow Whistle (1939) for voice and pipe. The Three Vocalises of 1958, with clarinet, are specifically for soprano, but show the composer's continuing taste for such combinations right into the last year of his life. John Mark Ainsley sings with the sense of a civilised personal utterance, refined and restrained, yet capable of full-bodied tone and a ringing forte when needed: the cry 'O noisy bells, be dumb' is as emotional as an operatic climax and all the more effective for the exceptional frankness of its release. These are highly demanding pieces, the voice unremittingly exposed. He brings to them a fine poise, in breathing, phrasing, expression and the even emission of quite beautiful tone. He has also the considerable advantage of exceptional players to work with.
Individually admirable, they combine in OnWenlock Edge to give an unusually imaginative performance.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Building a Library

First Choice - March 2001

Hyperion - CDA67168

(CD)

$14.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Albion Archive Recordings of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Albion Archive Recordings of Ralph Vaughan Williams


Vaughan Williams:

Five Tudor Portraits

On Wenlock Edge

Merciless Beauty

Household Music

CD2

Ralph Vaughan Williams's talk on Bach – The Great Bourgeois


Sebastian String Quartet, Salvation Army International Staff Band & Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, William Steinberg

These works are taken from the following archive sources:

On Wenlock Edge from Argo RG 20

Merciless Beauty from a broadcast on 28 May, 1960

Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes from the work’s first broadcast on 12 March, 1955

Five Tudor Portraits from Capitol Records CTL 7047, recorded live at the First Pittsburgh International Music Festival, 1952.

Bach; The Great Bourgeois was originally broadcast on 28th July, 1950

Front cover is a view of the Malvern Hills from a Victorian post-card.

Artists include Alexander Young, Nell Rankin, Robert. B. Anderson & Gordon Watson

“Although this was a live performance [of the Tudor Portraits] slips are few and there is a real feeling of a live occasion. Nell Rankin sings with real commitment as do the choir...[Young's] diction is faultless and he manages to avoid sounding self-pitying or simply feeble as do some of his rivals on disc...All in all this is a very welcome and imaginatively chosen selection of recordings which very much deserve resurrection.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

“the performances win through: Young's delivery of On Wenlock Edge is tremendously moving, while pianist Gordon Watson and the Sebastian String Quartet capture the nuances of tonal colour resulting from RVW's studies under Ravel. The three Rondels of Merciless Beauty are similarly affecting” The Independent, 4th May 2012

Albion Records - ALBCD014

(CD - 2 discs)

$15.25

(also available to download from $20.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

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