Mary Bevan / Roderick Williams / Jack Liebeck / William Vann

Time and Space: Songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams

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AllMusic Review by

Even fans of Gustav Holst may not know that he wrote 98 songs, and for many of those, this Albion release may be worthwhile on that basis alone. In all, the album contains 14 world premieres, most, but not all, by Holst. However, that's far from the end of the worthwhile things the album offers. A casual glance at the tracklist might make it seem a jumble of Holst and Vaughan Williams, but listen closely and you'll find a tightly constructed program that reveals much of the creative world the two composers shared, even as they forged very different song vocabularies. That shared world included folk song, a specialty of Vaughan Williams but also cultivated by Holst, cradle songs, and even the odd genre of songs for voice and violin alone, represented here by the pastoral but intimate group of A.E. Housman settings by Vaughan Williams, Along the Field. This is itself not a common item, and it must rank among the most sparse and powerful settings of Housman's rather minimalist poetry. Another interest Holst and Vaughan Williams shared was the poetry of Walt Whitman, and at the end are a pair of settings, one by each composer of Whitman's "Darest Thou Now O Soul" (which gives the album its Time and Space title). The two composers set this up as a kind of contest, and Vaughan Williams reported that "the prize was awarded by us to me." The episode testifies not only to their friendship but to the common lines of thinking of two composers generally considered quite different in style. Although Holst is probably thought of as the more progressive composer in general, in these songs, it is Vaughan Williams whose language is more original, and you may well agree with the pair's judgment. Both soprano Mary Bevan and baritone Roderick Williams are close to career peaks, and they capture the intimate quality of this music effortlessly, supported well by the superb Potton Hall sound from Albion. The virtues of this recording accumulate as you listen into something really deeply absorbing. Bravo.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Six Songs, Op. 15 H.68
1 03:19 Amazon
2 02:24 Amazon
3 02:02 Amazon
4 03:24 Amazon
5 02:19 Amazon
6 02:56 Amazon
Along the Field
7 01:33 Amazon
8 03:42 Amazon
9 01:52 Amazon
10 01:20 Amazon
11 02:18 Amazon
12 02:27 Amazon
13 03:35 Amazon
14 01:42 Amazon
15 02:37 Amazon
Six Songs, Op. 16 H. 69
16 01:23 Amazon
17 03:52 Amazon
Four Songs, Op. 4 H.14
18 02:16 Amazon
19 02:21 Amazon
20 01:50 Amazon
21 02:02 Amazon
22 02:50 Amazon
Folksongs from Hampshire, H. 83
23 02:20 Amazon
24 01:29 Amazon
Folksongs from Hampshire, H. 83
25 00:54 Amazon
26 02:56 Amazon
Four Songs for Voice and Violin Op. 35 H.132
27 02:52 Amazon
28 01:13 Amazon
29 01:52 Amazon
30 02:01 Amazon
31 02:26 Amazon
32 03:53 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick