Here is one of my all-time favorite Ralph (or "Rafe" should you quibble..) Vaughan Williams discs of all time; indeed this was only the second RVW recording I had purchased oh so many years ago. The main inspiration behind this VW post is of course the "Fantasia on Christmas Carols", for the holidays. It's a lovely work for Baritone, Choir, and Orchestra and is gushing with warm holiday spirit and cheer. This is actually my 2nd favorite version of it, and I do have many..but this disc was easy to locate and the Fantasia here is one of the best anyhow.
Also I believe that this is the finest recording of the "Fantasia on Greensleeves" which Vaughan Williams sets so tenderly and beautifully (It also includes the flute instead of the other version which only features the violin; it's much more gentle and lovely this way). Also "The Lark Ascending" presented here is my absolute favorite, with Iona Brown as the violin soloist. It's a classic and well-loved version with St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Sir Neville Marriner conducting. The English Folk Song Suite too is wonderfully done here, and assuming you have a pulse it should compel you to march, frolic, and perhaps even transport you to the countrysides of yore. The songs "Linden Lea" "Silent Noon" and "The Vagabond" from the "Songs of Travel" are very fine, and better still are "O Clap Your Hands" and "O Taste and See" for chorus (brass in the former, organ in the latter). I especially love "O Clap Your Hands", performed here by the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral and the Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble. "Three Shakespeare Songs" too is fine, although I've never been crazy for the work-I do 'like' it however, RVW can do no wrong in my mind/ears/soul...and opinion. These recordings were made at different times, the earliest being the Shakespeare Songs (1960) and the most 'recent' being "O Clap Your Hands" and "O Taste and See" (both 1984). The second-to-none "The Lark Ascending" with Iona Brown was recorded in 1972, while The "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" was recorded in 1962. The English Folk Song Suite was recorded in 1978, and the songs 1972 and 1979.
Sorry everyone for the subpar writing but I'm in such a rush. If I can I will try to post a delightful holiday album by the Baltimore Consort (one of my favorite ensembles, they recorded mostly for Dorian) late tonight and perhaps Hovhaness's "Christmas Symphony".
Lastly I have imported this as Apple Lossless (ALAC) files (still will be m4a) which are smaller than flac files yet with the same quality; a nice advantage of ALAC!
1)Fantasia on Greensleeves (4:31)
2)Linden Lea (2:52)
3)Silent Noon (3:40)
4The Vagabond (3:19)
5)The Lark Ascending (16:11)
Three Shakespeare Songs
6)Full Fathom Five (3:27)
7)The Cloud-capp'd Towers (2:13)
8)Over Hill, Over Dale (1:09)
English Folk Song Suite *Boston Pops Orchestra, Fiedler
9)March: Seventeen Come Sunday (3:38)
10)Intermezzo: My Bonny Boy (3:44)
11)March: Folk Songs from Somerset (3:52)
12)O Clap Your Hands (3:08)
13)O Taste and See (1:45)
14)Fantasia On Christmas Carols (11:45) *London Symphony Orchestra, Sir David Willcocks
King's College Choir, Cambridge Hervey Alan, bass-baritone