Mary Bevan soprano
Nicky Spence tenor 
Roderick Williams baritone
Jack Liebeck violin
William Vann piano

Albion Records ALBCD042

Music aficionados who voraciously feed off the charming wit and harmonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams would do well to take note of this first of a series of releases which encompass the composer’s lifetime passion for folk songs.

RVW was a committed collector of basic British everyday songs and tunes and enthusiastically used them to perfect a worldwide renowned art which saw him become lauded as one of the greatest ever composers. 

This generous 23-track release will certainly give the listener a rare exposure of the enduring building blocks behind this eminent artist. It is literally a real treasure trove of insights into those famous RVW works we all know and adore. 

There are some beautifully delivered vocal harmonies in the Sea Song collection, ranging from the capricious verse of ‘Just as the Tide was Flowing’. This is vintage Vaughan Williams, guaranteed to put  a smile of delight anyone’s face!

Touching emotion comes from Mary Bevan’s  exquisite soprano voice in How Cold the Wind Doth Blow and – with the addition of robust tenor Nicky Spence – there  is palpable wit and charm in Here’s Adieu to all Judges and Juries, from the RVW collection entitled Folk Songs from Sussex.

‘The Pretty Ploughboy’ features some admirable baritone singing from Roderick Williams, while the skilfully played solo violin of Jack Liebeck helps to weave an expressive mood.

Clear lyrical diction successfully captures an entertaining charm throughout this exceptional release. Restrained piano accompaniment never becomes over- intrusive and this whole collection is well-balanced throughout.

An advance taste of Christmas is joyously delivered in Come, All You Worthy Christians. 

This is an encouraging recording as part of an exciting plan to issue all 80 RVW arrangements of Folk Songs for voice and piano, scheduled to be released over the next two years in a further three albums. 

Review by Chris Bye