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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This performance is a pleasure to listen to, 14 Sep 2006
This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
When Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the Songs of Travel song cycle in 1904 it was still usual for people as far down the social scale as the lower middle classes to entertain themselves around the family piano. The latest popular songs would be purchased as sheet music to be played and sang along to. It is a mark of Vaughan Williams particular genius that he is able to evoke precisely the right atmosphere in for the subject of each song by simple means so that good amateur musicians can play them. This simplicity allows his constant melodic invention to sing out clearly. It is the genius of this recording that it creates the intimate atmosphere of a performance around the home piano, whilst also being a performance of the highest standard.

I much prefer this performance to that with Bryn Terfel singing. Bryn Terfel has a fine richly coloured voice that is well suited to opera, but it is rather too big a beast for these more intimate songs. Here the baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Iain Burnside make an ideal pairing. Roderick Williams brings the character out of the songs without overpowering them. Iain Burnside displays a deft touch and understanding of Vaughan Williams style of piano writing in which arpeggios of notes sound out rather like muted peals of bells. The sound engineering is excellent.

The works on this disc are all in similar style. Both Songs of Travel, based on poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The House of Life based on poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, were composed in 1904 when Vaughan Williams was a young 32 year old composer. The Four Poems by Fredegond Shrove from 1925 are in a more developed, but similar style. The House of Life is the longest cycle here and the most expressive, with Vaughan Williams clearly relishing Robert Louis Stevenson's descriptions of the life of a vagabond on the road. However, there is no dipping in quality all the way to the last song on the CD, The Water Mill, in which the piano part revels in the energy of the flowing stream and the turning wheel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and something DAFT like £3, 8 Nov 2010
This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
This is a fantastic, fantastic album by one of today's most popular British baritones / bass-baritones, singing a very respectable (nearly 20, I think) collection of very good songs by one of our greatest-ever composers for the voice.

Okay, no way to say this less directly - #YOU WOULD BE A FOOL NOT TO BUY THIS.
If you like low voices
If you like male voices.
If you like RVW
of if you just like good songwriting.

I loved this when I got it about 3,4,5? dunno years ago and it's a bloody bargain.
There is only one teeny teeny niggle (can't believe I'm going to put it), but in 1 song he goes really nasal at the end on "good", and sings "geeeeeeeeeerd".
And that's it. But we fast forward that bit.

Another thing I like is that on here he sounds like he does when you go to hear him live.
One of Yorkshire's best I think...and no-one I went to college with had heard of him. :[
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4.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, but perhaps a too well-spoken Vagabond?, 30 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
These are, in general, wonderful performances of VW's principal songs. These are masterful settings of fine poems and too often treated dismissively by those who should know better. Iain Burnside is such a sensitive and brilliant partner to the singer that he reminds me of Gerald Moore with the great DFD, of which I know no higher praise. If you listen directly to the pianist you hear many marvellous nuances of colour and timing from Burnside that illuminate the equally-sensitive treatment of the text by Williams. However, like Moore and Fischer-Dieskau at their best, the empathy between singer and pianist is so complete that what you experience is the music; rather than being aware of either as a "performer". Roderick Williams has a beautifully produced voice of rich timbre that always sounds fully under his control. Every note is centred and his immaculate diction means that the meaning of the sung text is immediate and firmly projected. From this very quality, however, comes my one reservation. The Songs of Travel are a true song-cycle with a series of scenes that tell a story of almost operatic power, finally resolving in the late posthumous concluding song that draws together themes from the whole cycle in a valedictory reminiscence. For me, Williams' diction has far too much "received pronunciation" to convince as the earthy character of Stevenson's vagabond. Hard to believe that Williams is a Yorkshireman. I'm not saying that it needs a "regional" accent, but there needs to be something much rougher around the edges than we get here. (There's a good disc of an identical programme made by Benjamin Luxon, but I have not been able to hear this recently. My recollection is that it avoided this pitfall, without being in all other ways ideal). However, apart from this one grouse, I know of no better performance with piano than this one and as a Naxos disc it is both finely recorded and impressively good value.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent listening, 23 April 2012
By 
Lloyd Williams "Panda" (West Country UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside are a marvellous combination: Roddy's words always crystal clear. Silent Noon is such a beautiful song, it's worth buying the CD just for that!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to this!, 30 Aug 2011
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M. Steel - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
I bought this CD particularly for one track - Silent Noon, from the House of Life. I was lucky enough to observe two weeks of masterclasses in English Song during the Aldeburgh Festival in 2010, and a couple of the students were working on this song. I grew to love it with a passion. Do use the Listen tab and hear for yourself. The whole CD is wonderful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice recordings, 25 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
Both excellent
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REACTED TO BROADCAST, 12 April 2014
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Mr. G. Pearce "I hate cleaning!" (BIrmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
Bought this after hearing on Radio 3. Was going through a very Vaughan Williams period. Suspect I shall not play it many times, even though performance excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 29 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Vaughan Williams: Songs of Travel (Audio CD)
Superb
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