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  • Vaughan Williams: Riders to the Sea, Merciless Beauty, Epithalamion
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Vaughan Williams: Riders to the Sea, Merciless Beauty, Epithalamion


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Vaughan Williams: Riders to the Sea, Merciless Beauty, Epithalamion + Vaughan Williams: Pilgrim's Progress, with rehearsal sequence
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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Nov. 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Emi Classical
  • ASIN: B00000DOCY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,872 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Riders To The Sea: Where is She - Norma Burrowes/Margaret Price/Helen Watts/Benjamin Luxon/Pauline Stevens/Ambrosian Singers
2. Riders To The Sea: Where Is The Bit Of New Rope - Norma Burrowes/Margaret Price/Helen Watts/Benjamin Luxon/Pauline Stevens/Ambrosian Singers
3. Riders To The Sea: Wait, Nora - Norma Burrowes/Margaret Price/Helen Watts/Benjamin Luxon/Pauline Stevens/Ambrosian Singers
4. Riders To The Sea: You Didn't Give Him His Bit Of Bread? - Norma Burrowes/Margaret Price/Helen Watts/Benjamin Luxon/Pauline Stevens/Ambrosian Singers
5. Riders To The Sea: Bartley Will Be Lost Now - Norma Burrowes/Margaret Price/Helen Watts/Benjamin Luxon/Pauline Stevens/Ambrosian Singers
6. Riders To The Sea: They Are All Gone Now - Norma Burrowes/Margaret Price/Helen Watts/Benjamin Luxon/Pauline Stevens/Ambrosian Singers
7. Merciless Beauty: Three Rondels: I. Your Eyen Two - Philip Langridge
8. Merciless Beauty: Three Rondels: II. So Hath Your Beauty - Philip Langridge
9. Merciless Beauty: Three Rondels: III. Since I From Love - Philip Langridge
10. Epithalamion: I. Prologue - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
11. Epithalamion: II. Wake Now - Stephen Roberts/The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
12. Epithalamion: III. The Calling Of The Bride - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
13. Epithalamion: IV. The Minstrels - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
14. Epithalamion: V. Procession Of The Bride - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
15. Epithalamion: VI. The Temple Gates - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
16. Epithalamion: VII. The Bell Ringers - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
17. Epithalamion: VIII. The Lover's Song - Stephen Roberts/The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
18. Epithalamion: IX. The Minstrel's Song - Stephen Roberts/The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
19. Epithalamion: X. Song Of The Winged Loves - The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes
20. Epithalamion: XI. Prayer To Juno - Stephen Roberts/The Bach Chr/Douglas Janes

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Customer Reviews

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This CD contains a superb performance of Vaughan Williams' opera, Riders To The Sea.
This is a one act,36 minute long work,which sounds more like a choral work than a traditional opera,and is all the better for .It is based upon a stage play by the Irish dramatist,JM Synge,about the life of the peasant folk of Aran.
The sound world and the singers,four female and one male, are very evocative of the sea and the tragedy unfolding [all the men are swept to their death by the sea.]Particularly impressive is Helen Watts as Maurya,the Old Woman of the Sea.
It reminds me partly of Sinfonia Antartica and partly of Flos Campi,which should encourage fans to try it.It is a haunting work, which fares very well on CD, where listeners can use their imagination.
The performance is top class,by the singers,and Orchestra Nova,conducted by Meredith Davies.Recorded in 1971.
I strongly recommend this little known work to the fans of RVW.
The downside to this CD however, is the other two works,neither of which I can really recommend.
Merciless Beauty is for tenor and string trio which only lasts 6 minutes and is quaintly mediaeval.Epithalamion lasts 32 mins and is for baritone,chorus and orchestra.It is conventional and I rarely play it all the way through.
The reason to buy this CD is Riders To The Sea, which I believe to be a masterpiece and worth the price of the CD on its own.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 Sept. 2014
This seventy-five-minute CD of three of the less well-known vocal works of Vaughan Williams comprises three pieces. The first is his short opera ‘Riders to the Sea’, a vivid interpretation, written in 1932, of JM Synge’s tragedy of an Irish mother who loses her last son to the cruelty of the waves, but who also gains some quiet resignation in the fact that “There isn’t anything more the sea can do to me.” Recorded in 1970, this is a fine performance.

The second piece is Vaughan Williams’s ‘Merciless Beauty’, three roundels after Chaucer for voice and string trio. Written in 1921, there is no cause for particular praise in either the writing or the performance; both lack passion. Save, that is, for the last, which at least reminds us that Vaughan Williams went first where Britten was later to follow. The recording is from 1986.

The final piece is an interpretation of Spenser’s ‘Epithalamion’, dating to 1957, late in the composer’s life. Again recorded in 1986, this is pure Vaughan Williams and would have seemed distant from the new music of the time of Britten and his contemporaries. Looking back now, we can accept both Britten and Vaughan Williams on their own merits, but the ‘Epithalamion’, akin to a secular cantata, certainly possesses great warmth and melody. It is a shame that the performance here with the London Philharmonic under David Willcocks often lacks verve.

A smart selection, then, for those wishing to explore the lesser known works of Vaughan Williams. ‘Riders to the Sea’ can certainly be recommended for both performance and composition; the ‘Epithalamion’ for composition; but, for me, the mere seven minutes of ‘Merciless Beauty’ are five minutes too many.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian Stocker on 27 May 2010
I enjoyed this CD very much and it was a very good performance. I love all music by Vaughan Williams but was not aware of "Epithalamion" until recently. "The Riders to the Sea" I had on an old vinyl record.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Vaughan Williams operatic masterpiece 26 Dec. 2003
By Rodney Gavin Bullock - Published on Amazon.com
None of Vaughan Williams' five operas have entered the repertoire despite the fact that they all contain glorious music. 'Sir John in Love' ought to be staged from time to time but 'Riders to the Sea' is a masterpice with a fatal, programming fault: it is too short. Lasting only 30-40 minutes, it is almost impossible to fit into a company's evening schedule. Happily, this length might well suit the domestic listener who has a short time at the end of the day and does not want to embark on a three hour marathon.
The composer does not call it an opera but a 'setting' of a one act play of the same name by the Irish playright, J.M.Synge. It is the story of a fishing family on an island off the west coast of Ireland. The mother, Maurya, has already lost her father, husband and some of her sons to the sea and the action starts with the finding of a drowned man whose clothes fit the description of those belonging to her son Michael. Her worst fears are confirmed yet her remaining son, Bartley, insists on going to the horsefair on the mainland despite her pleading. He, too, is drowned and Maurya is left with her two daughters. The sea has taken virtually everything from her but, surprisingly, Maurya rises above her grief - "They are all gone now, and there isn't anything more the sea can do to me."
The music and text are closely integrated in a symphonic way. The score calls for a sea machine which is used in an atmospheric way similar to the way RVW uses the wind machine in Sinfonia Antartica. There are no numbers and the atmosphere is somewhat grim throughout, as can be imagined. It needs close listening to reveal all its secrets. Maurya's final, long aria is very beautiful and emotionally very powerful and the opera ends in unexpected repose.
The three Chaucer Rondels, 'Merciless Beauty', is here recorded with tenor and string trio. The disc is completed by the cantata 'Epithalamion', which is something of a rarity. Epithalamion is a song or poem in praise of the bride and bridegroom and the composer's cantata derives from a masque he wrote in 1939 based on poems by Edmund Spenser. The dances were removed to produce the work which is for baritone, chorus, piano, flute and string orchestra. Lasting for over half an hour, it is a considerable work in the composers most lyrical vein and it ought to be better known.
All the performances are first rate, particularly Helen Watts as Maurya. The recording of the opera dates from 1971 but wears its age lightly. The other recordings date from 1987.
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