On this new release Martin Outram (Viola) and Julian Rolton (piano) play all of the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams for viola and piano. Mark Padmore (tenor) joins them to record Four Hymns for Tenor, Viola and Piano. Ralph Vaughan Williams learned the piano and violin from an early age, but took to the viola while still at school and continued to play it all his life; this instrument is associated with his most romantic and impassioned music. His contemporary, the great viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis, was the inspiration for two of the works presented here. The Suite for Viola and Small Orchestra was premiered by Tertis in 1934, soon followed by a viola and piano edition. The eight movements of this lively work mainly represent dances. TheRead more short but lovely Romance is thought to have been written for Lionel Tertis at approximately the time of the First World War. It was apparently never performed and was found after the composer’s death. The Six Studies in English Folk Song, dedicated in 1926 to the cellist May Mukle, were produced in alternative versions for cello, viola, violin and clarinet, all with piano. Folk songs were important to Vaughan Williams, who collected many of them, and this work is based on six of them. This work in turn led on to a Fantasia on Sussex Folk Tunes for cello and orchestra, dedicated in 1929 to Pablo Casalls. John Lenehan published a piano reduction of the piano part and Martin Outram has adapted the cello solo part for the viola. The Fantasia on Greensleeves derives from VW’s 1928 opera, Sir John in Love. Based on a well-known tune, possibly of the Tudor period, at incorporates another folk song, Lovely Joan. The Four Hymns for Tenor, Viola and Piano date from just before the first works war. Based on texts dating from the 17th to the 20th century, they are weighty in mood and rise to feelings of religious ecstasy.
The Maggini Quartet’s viola player, Martin Outram, has put together a rare and beautiful program of less familiar Vaughan Williams. The neglected Four Hymns are given vivid, trenchantly enunciated performances by the tenor Padmore.