Now here is a highly enjoyable combination: choral folk songs arranged for mixed choir by Vaughan Williams and Holst. The songs are gems. How else could one describe such favorites as "Loch Lomond," "I Love My Love," and "Greensleeves?" The arrangements are delightful. Both composers loved folk songs, and their musical skill is always subordinate to their affection. Here, melody is king, harmony is queen, and their progeny are blessed with an earthly beauty and a heavenly grace. The 16 Vaughan Williams' arrangements were recorded in 1969 by the London Madrigal Singers under Christopher Bishop, and the performances are ardent and enthusiastic, with Ian Partridge providing an especially effective tenor solo in "Loch Lomond." Recorded in 1974, the 10 Holst arrangements, 9 from English folk songs and one from the Rigveda, are performed by the eight-voice London Baccholian Singers with a robust tone and a vigorous sense of rhythm. Though surely not the first disc of English modernism casual listeners should hear, devotees of the composers will seek it out and enjoy it with pleasure. In both cases, EMI's stereo sound is clear, cool, and deep.
Vaughan Williams, Holst: Choral Folksong Arrangements Review
by James Leonard