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On Wenlock Edge [ from A Shropshire Lad - A E Housman]

Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. 1872 - d. 1958)

Anna Tilbrook, James Gilchrist

Anna Tilbrook, James Gilchrist

Composer
Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. 1872 - d. 1958)
Composition Year
1909
Work Movements
1. On Wenlock Edge- Allegro moderato
2. From Far, From Eve and Morning - Andantino
3. Is My Team Ploughing - Andante sostenuto, ma non troppo lento
4. Oh, when I was in love with you - Allegretto
5. Bredon Hill - Moderato tranquillo
6. Clun - Andante tranquillo
Artists
Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe [violins] Simon Aspell [viola] Christopher Marwood [cello]), James Gilchrist [tenor], Anna Tilbrook [piano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Ian Fox

A.E. Housman (1859-1936) was professor of Latin at Cambridge and a leading classicist of his time.    He wrote “A Shropshire Lad”, a cycle of 63 poems in the early 1890s and when publishers turned it down he issued it at his own expense in 1896. It gradually gained popularity, becoming one of the best-loved set of poems, never out of print since. The verses have proved rich pickings for composers of the First World War and since. Surprisingly he had never visited Shropshire at the time he wrote the verses, dreaming up a kind of idealised rural community similar to Hardy’s Wessex.

In 1908 Vaughan Williams went to Paris for a three-month period of study with Ravel and his unusual choice of piano quintet  as accompanying ensemble may well have been influenced Chausson’s  Chanson Perpétuelle or Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson.  He began his song cycle at his time and acknowledged some French polish in his writing, though the dominant mood is that of the English folk-song.  Gervase Elwes sang at the first performance in London in November 1909 when it was enthusiastically received.  Ravel paid Vaughan Williams the compliment of playing the piano in the first French performance of the work, in February 1912, following which he wrote, Everyone is agreed that your lyric poems were a revelation. 

The first song (Allegro moderato) provides a close match between words and music, Vaughan Williams biographer the late Michael Kennedy considered the second song (Andantino) the finest of the six.  The third song (Andante sostenuto, ma non troppo lento) is a powerfully dramatic piece with a sting in the tail.  Next comes a charming love song (Allegretto) while the fifth (Moderato tranquillo) is the most ambitious of the cycle, with a splendid pastoral sensitivity. Finally a song with a complete change of mood (Andante  tranquillo) which brings the cycle to a happy conclusion.  

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On Wenlock Edge [ from A Shropshire Lad - A E Housman]

Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. 1872 - d. 1958)
Performance date: Thursday 2nd July 2015
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (b. 1872 - d. 1958)
Work Title On Wenlock Edge [ from A Shropshire Lad - A E Housman]
Composition Year 1909
Work Movements 1. On Wenlock Edge- Allegro moderato
2. From Far, From Eve and Morning - Andantino
3. Is My Team Ploughing - Andante sostenuto, ma non troppo lento
4. Oh, when I was in love with you - Allegretto
5. Bredon Hill - Moderato tranquillo
6. Clun - Andante tranquillo
Artist(s) Vanbrugh Quartet (Gregory Ellis, Keith Pascoe [violins] Simon Aspell [viola] Christopher Marwood [cello]), James Gilchrist [tenor], Anna Tilbrook [piano]
Performance Date Thursday 2nd July 2015
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:22:18
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Sextet
Instrumentation T-solo, pf, 2vn,va,vc
Programme Note Writer © Ian Fox

A.E. Housman (1859-1936) was professor of Latin at Cambridge and a leading classicist of his time.    He wrote “A Shropshire Lad”, a cycle of 63 poems in the early 1890s and when publishers turned it down he issued it at his own expense in 1896. It gradually gained popularity, becoming one of the best-loved set of poems, never out of print since. The verses have proved rich pickings for composers of the First World War and since. Surprisingly he had never visited Shropshire at the time he wrote the verses, dreaming up a kind of idealised rural community similar to Hardy’s Wessex.

In 1908 Vaughan Williams went to Paris for a three-month period of study with Ravel and his unusual choice of piano quintet  as accompanying ensemble may well have been influenced Chausson’s  Chanson Perpétuelle or Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson.  He began his song cycle at his time and acknowledged some French polish in his writing, though the dominant mood is that of the English folk-song.  Gervase Elwes sang at the first performance in London in November 1909 when it was enthusiastically received.  Ravel paid Vaughan Williams the compliment of playing the piano in the first French performance of the work, in February 1912, following which he wrote, Everyone is agreed that your lyric poems were a revelation. 

The first song (Allegro moderato) provides a close match between words and music, Vaughan Williams biographer the late Michael Kennedy considered the second song (Andantino) the finest of the six.  The third song (Andante sostenuto, ma non troppo lento) is a powerfully dramatic piece with a sting in the tail.  Next comes a charming love song (Allegretto) while the fifth (Moderato tranquillo) is the most ambitious of the cycle, with a splendid pastoral sensitivity. Finally a song with a complete change of mood (Andante  tranquillo) which brings the cycle to a happy conclusion.