Ralph Vaughan Williams
Phantasy Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas & Cello
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is one of England's most important 20th century composers. He was born in the small village of Down Ampney in Gloucestershire and was educated at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music where he studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford. Subsequently he studied with Max Bruch in Berlin and Ravel in Paris. Vaughan Williams was able to establish his own distinctive voice early on and his quintet, though it shows some French influence, is unmistakably recognizable as coming from him.
His Phantasy Quintet dates from 1912 and was dedicated to William Wilson Cobbett who had created and endowed a famous competition. The Cobbett Competitions where designed to encourage the younger generation of British composers to write chamber music. The rules of the competition provided an alternate format, the old English Fancy for Fantasia from the time of Purcell, to the traditional four movement work which had developed from Haydn onwards.
The opening Prelude begins with a lovely viola solo eventually answered by the first violin. The melody is pentatonic. The second movement, a Scherzo, starts with the cello and is quite unusual with its asymmetrical rhythm and ostinato. Perhaps there is a vague aura of Ravel. Next comes an Alla Sarabanda. It is a Lento played entirely muted and without the cello who rejoins the proceedings in the finale, Burlesca, which appears based on folk song and brings with it echoes of the first movement.
Here is a unique work for string quintet. There are no others which sound like it and as such it always makes a strong impression. Unavailable for many years, we are pleased to reintroduce it.
Parts & Score: $36.95