Organized by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, this release is characteristic of such private enterprises: it covers mostly rather obscure material, but it's a nice find for fans, with performances of real intimacy and sensitivity. The only work that appears in its original form is the cycle of Songs of Travel that opens the album (all nine are there, despite the track list). One of the texts by Robert Louis Stevenson gives the album its title, and all are wonderfully performed by baritone Roland Wood. The rest of the album consists of arrangements, three by Vaughan Williams himself, and one, of the Violin Concerto in D major ("Concerto Accademico"), by Constant Lambert. That's odd in that Lambert wasn't particularly a Vaughan Williams fan, but then the rather dry neo-Baroque work is not particularly characteristic of Vaughan Williams, either. The major attraction for many listeners will be the violin-and-piano adaptation of the orchestral The Lark Ascending; it's striking how the mood changes and becomes more inward and even mystical in this version, very nicely toned down by violinist Matthew Trusler. It really deserves to be heard more often on chamber recitals. The Six Studies in English Folk Song, transferred from the cello, and the arrangement of three songs from the opera The Pilgrim's Progress gain less, but the overall impression is warmly idiomatic, and the Potton Hall sound environment is flawlessly appropriate.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Songs of Travel|
|Six Studies in English Folk Song|
|Violin Concerto in D minor (Concerto Accademico)|