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Vaughan Williams: Willow-Wood ()

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Forty years ago British serialist Elisabeth Lutyens could deride the compositions of Ralph Vaughan Williams as "cowpat music," but his reputation seems to be on the rise. CDs of obscure Vaughan Williams compositions in various genres have appeared, and the centerpiece of this Naxos release of mostly choral pieces is Willow-Wood, a work that has not been heard since its premiere in 1909. Designated a cantata for baritone and orchestra, it also includes a women's chorus. One can understand why the work has been neglected: it exudes a musty Edwardian odor with its swooping vocalises for the female chorus and its lengthy Dante Gabriel Rossetti text, the very epitome of what modern poets were reacting against in their striving toward concision. However, these qualities make Willow-Wood a bit exotic after all this time, and baritone Roderick Williams performs it to the hilt, articulating the text with superb clarity and shaping the 14-minute cantata coherently. Willow-Wood is the second track on the album,... Hide synopsis

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