Vaughan Williams, Ralph: Two Vocal Duets
Soprano, Baritone and Piano with Violin Obbligato and Optional String Quartet (No. 1 only)
The Last Invocation (d′ – a flat″) and (d – e′)
The Love-Song of the Birds (e′ – b″) and (e – g′)
The Two Vocal Duets, for ‘soprano, baritone and violin with accompaniment of pianoforte’, are important as being the first completed settings of Whitman by the composer, begun soon after his initial sketches for A Sea Symphony, and performed in 1904. Though there is a certain Wagnerian influence, the lyricism of these works is essentially English, and characteristically that of VW in particular. For the premiere, he provided an additional accompaniment of second violin, viola and cello ad libitum. Material for the second song is lost, but parts for the first are included with the score, though the composer considered the trio version as definitive, and the string-quartet experiment was not repeated at subsequent performances. Recorded by Mary Bevan (soprano), Johnny Herford (baritone), Thomas Gould (violin) and William Vann (piano) on Albion Records ALBCD029.