The Nash Ensemble
This disc is for those in awe of, and in love with Ralph Vaughan Williams for his sublime work The Lark Ascending. Evoking an ambience of balmy, hazy summer afternoons spent languishing in the English countryside in a state of semi-slumber while the world drifts gently by in the breeze, this disc is the textbook antidote for clearing away the dark grey clouds so prevalent of late.
The opening work, The Lake in the Mountains for solo piano, is deliciously dreamy, as are the Six Studies in English Folk-Song for cello and piano. Vaughan Williams (himself a viola player) augmented the standard string quartet with a second viola for his Phantasy Quintet, adding further sonority and richness to music already measuring very highly on the sonorous scale. The Violin Sonata was written for Frederick Grinke, whose performances of The Lark Ascending Vaughan Williams much admired, and the String Quartet No 2 arose from his friendship with a young viola player. Echoes of Flos campi and the finale of his Fifth Symphony waft through the quartet like little coils of smoke from an early autumn bonfire, and it concludes in an atmosphere of benediction and serenity.
Heavenly performances of heavenly works, this disc is destined for a life within easy reach of the CD player.