Vaughan Williams - Five Mystical Songs and other British Choral Anthems | Naxos 8574416

Vaughan Williams - Five Mystical Songs and other British Choral Anthems

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Label: Naxos

Cat No: 8574416

Barcode: 0747313441679

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 14th October 2022



Featuring Vaughan Williams’s masterly and intensely personal Five Mystical Songs, this album reflects on the sources of inspiration of some of his sacred choral works, alongside gems of 19th- and early- 20th-century English church music. Often setting the poetry of the King James Bible, the finely spun melodies and sensitivity to word-rhythm of composers from S.S. Wesley to Herbert Howells result in a uniquely British form of expression.

There never needs to be any excuse for recording the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, but his 150th birthday anniversary most certainly deserves marking. This wide-ranging mixture of popular and less familiar choral anthems from the British Isles is attractive enough, but it is also crowned by a fabulous recording in a new version with organ of the by no means overexposed Five Mystical Songs that Vaughan Williams wrote for the Three Choirs Festival in 1911. This is indeed a programme that satisfies at every level.

A Vaughan Williams Anthology (8508021) 8-disc boxed set was released earlier in 2022 for the anniversary, which included some of the most successful Vaughan Williams titles on the Naxos catalogue. ‘There isn’t a dud performance in sight!’ exclaimed the Daily Mail (****).

Star of the Five Mystical Songs is Roderick Williams, one of the UK’s most sought-after concert and opera baritones and winner of the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the Year award. His Naxos recordings include a contribution to the ‘unusual and moving’ (BBC Music Magazine) Flowers of the Field album (8573426).

Williams’s recordings with pianist Iain Burnside include Songs of Travel (8557643) and Willow-Wood (8557798), and received a Gramophone Award nomination and was considered ‘an essential addition to the Vaughan Williams discography’ (

Martin Ford’s wide-ranging freelance career encompasses a variety of work as an organist, piano accompanist, choral director and teacher. He previously joined the Vasari Singers on their 40th anniversary album Heaven Full of Stars (8574179), in which ‘the whole programme is mesmerizing and the performances are exquisite… Most are a cappella, but the ones with accompaniment are beautifully served by organist Martin Ford’ (American Record Guide Critic’s Choice).

The Vasari Singers was founded in 1980 and is regarded as one of the leading chamber choirs in Britain. Under the direction of its founder conductor Jeremy Backhouse, Vasari Singers performs a wide range of repertoire from Renaissance to contemporary. Many of the choir’s recordings have received high acclaim, achieving chart successes and similar recommendations. During the moratorium on live choral singing in 2019 and 2020, Vasari turned its attention to online activities, successfully engaging with a worldwide audience through virtual performances and choral workshops. Notable among these was the online launch concert for the critically acclaimed Heaven Full of Stars.

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