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Vaughan Williams: Five Tudor Portraits Benedicite / Five Variants Of Dives And Lazarus Wilcocks

Vaughan Williams , Sir David Willcox , Contralto Elizabeth Bainbridge , Baritone John Carol Case , Soprano Heather Harper , Bach Choir , London Symphony Orchestra , The Jacques Orchestra Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • Run Time: 71.09 minutes
  • ASIN: B000F0KDA2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,536 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

The "Five Tudor Portraits" Tracks are: 1. No 1 ballad: The Tunning of Elinor Rumming, 2. No. 2 Intermezzo: My Pretty Bess, 3. No. 3 Burlesca: Epitaph on John Jayberd of Diss. 4. No. 4 Romanza: Jane Scroop (Her lament for Philip Sparrow), 5. No. 5 Scherzo: Jolly Rutterkin. Track 6. is "Benedicite". Track 7. is "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I wasn't aware that Vaughan Williams' "Five Tudor Portraits" was a genuine masterpiece. It isn't necessarily the most oft-cited composition when one approaches the composer, even among his choral works. So this came as a great surprise.

What makes it such a masterpiece is, first, the text that VW set to music in 1936: 5 poems (extracts rather) by the early Renaissance poet and tutor to the future Henry VIII, John Skelton. They are racy and saucy in the manner of Chaucer and immensely funny - the kind Britten might have set to music in his own Spring Symphony if VW hadn't been there first. Skelton's meter is irregular and variable, and his rhyme is brilliant. It is Elgar who, in 1932, drew VW's attention to Skelton, commenting that the poems were "pure Jazz" - to which I'll add that his rhyme is pure Broadway, in his cunning cleverness and his glee at twisting pronunciation to "make it fit" (especially - but not only - when he has Latin rhyme with English, as in Dominum/come).

The reference to Britten I find all the more appropriate in view of the fact that "5 Tudor Portraits" were premiered on the same concert in which Britten's "Our Hunting Fathers" was also first performed. The heart and longest movement of VW's composition is its 4th movement, a Romanza (slow movement) on Jane Scroop's lament on the death of her sparrow, Philip, at the claws of her cat Gib. That chimes so well with Britten's vehement and sometimes terrifying defence of the animals against ferocious mankind. Furthermore, it is hard to escape thinking that Britten remembered "5 Tudor Portraits" when he set out to compose his own Spring Symphony more than ten years later.
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