Monday, September 25, 2017

English suites no. 3

I'd started with Gustav Holst, so one's thoughts then turn to his close friend and colleague Ralph Vaughan Williams. VW is, to my ear, the greatest of all 20C British composers, but he wasn't as keen on the suite as a form as Holst was.

He did write a few, though, and a highly characteristic one is the Charterhouse Suite for strings. This has an unusual origin. VW wrote it for piano, an instrument he was not often drawn to. It was arranged for strings by another hand, but it still sounds a lot like VW, in part because the arranger was good, he worked under VW's supervision, and also because much of the music is modal, typical of his work.

The six movements are Prelude (0.01), Slow dance (1.44), Quick dance (3.40), Slow air (5.57), Rondo (9.40), and Pezzo ostinato (11.43). Enjoy the attractive views of the English countryside on the visual side of this file, too. Since RVW was pre-eminently the composer who caught the spirit of the land ("cowpat music," those who didn't like it called it), that's appropriate.

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