Ralph Vaughan Williams

Silent Noon ("Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass"), song for voice & piano (The House of Life No. 2)

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This is the second of six songs in the cycle, The House of Life, one of Vaughan Williams' finest vocal collections from his early years. The songs, scored for voice and piano, are based on the six sonnets of the same collective title by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Probably the most famous of the songs in the set is this one, "Silent Noon," whose text is an expression of the rapturous mood following love-making. Set in the country, it also details many lovely pastoral elements that surround the two lovers ("The pasture gleams and glooms/'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass").

    The song opens in a serene and sunny mood, Vaughan Williams presenting a lovely, soaring melody of rich Romantic character. Here he achieves a passion and intensity of expression, without storming the heights or employing loud sonorities. The piano accompaniment consists of lilting, soothing chords in the outer sections and of delicate writing mostly in the upper register for the middle section, where the vocal line is, once again, lovely and richly Romantic. The transition back to the main theme is particularly touching, the voice yearning gently for a pregnant moment ("So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above") before the opening melody returns for a lovely close. In sum, this is one of the composer's earliest vocal masterpieces, whose ravishing beauty will appeal to most song fanciers.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Albion ALBCD 027
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290873638
    2015 ABC Classics 4811633
    2014 Champs Hill Records CHRCD 074
    2012 Decca 4783589
    2012 Decca
    2012 Regis RRC 4011
    2012 Warner Classics 661252
    2012 Warner Classics 2564661403
    2012 Hyperion CDA 67888
    2012 Walking Frog Records WFR 375A
    2012 Alto 1157
    2012 Signum Classics SIGCD 314
    2011 Decca
    2011 Harmonia Mundi HMC 902093
    2011 Stone Records 80000
    2011 TwoPianists TP1039077
    2011 ABC Classics / ABCCC ABC 4764620
    2010 Dal Segno 055
    2010 ABC Classics 4764075
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099962791
    2008 Decca 4756060
    2008 ABC Classics 4766906
    2008 Naxos 8556835
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099920799
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2006 Querstand 9815
    2006 Wigmore Hall 2
    2005 Castle Pulse PLSCD 755
    2005 Regis Records 1164
    2004 Guild Historical 2260/61/62
    2004 Naxos 8557559-60
    2004 Deux-Elles 1012
    2003 BBC Legends / BBC Music 41172
    2003 Naxos 8557114
    2001 Hyperion 67227
    1999 Pearl GEMMCD 9243
    1999 London 433473
    1999 Dutton Laboratories 7038
    1998 Symposium 1165
    1998 BELART 4500202
    1998 Dutton Vocalion 7031
    1996 Collins Records 14882
    1995 Turtle Creek Chorale TCC1
    1995 Symposium 1183
    1994 Universal Distribution 4500202
    1994 Chandos 8722
    1993 London 430061
    1992 London 433802
    1992 London 433085
    1991 Decca 430 093-2DWO
    CRD Records 3473
    EMI Classics 99
    Angel Records 56830B