Hyperion Records

Ten Blake Songs
author of text
from Songs of Innocence & Songs of Experience

'Vaughan Williams: Songs' (CDA67168)
Vaughan Williams: Songs
No 01: Infant Joy  I have no name: I am but two days old
No 02: A Poison Tree  I was angry with my friend
No 03: The Piper  Piping down the valleys wild
No 04: London  I wander thro' each charter'd street
No 05: The Lamb
No 06: The Shepherd
No 07: Ah, Sun-flower
No 08: Cruelty has a human heart
No 09: The Divine Image  To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
No 10: Eternity  He who binds himself with joy

Ten Blake Songs
The Ten Blake Songs were composed over the Christmas period 1957/58 for the film The Vision of William Blake, produced and directed by Guy Brenton for the Bi-Centenary Committee of the Blake Society. Only eight were used in the film (numbers 2 and 3 were omitted) which also used extracts from Job, Vaughan Williams’s 1939 ‘Masque for Dancing’ based on Blake’s remarkable illustrations. The cycle was first heard over the air in a BBC recital by Wilfred Brown (tenor) and Janet Craxton (oboe) on 8 October 1958. The first public performance took place at a McNaughten Concert on 14 November, and the film itself was premiered in London on 10 October. Vaughan Williams never heard any of these performances, for he had died on 26 August, well into his eighty-sixth year.

In these marvellous songs of his old age, the vocal line ranges from the extreme simplicity of ‘Infant Joy’ to the stern declamation of ‘Cruelty’, and embraces the formal tune of ‘The Lamb’ (a poem which Vaughan Williams once declared he hated!) as readily as the strophic variations of ‘The Divine Image’. Though the voice and oboe never get in each other’s way, three of the songs dispense with the oboe altogether. In the remainder it acts sometimes in an illustrative capacity (as in ‘The Piper’), but more often as a discreet support that provides a magical pivot for the implied harmonies as they change in deference to the poet’s words. Composed nearly fifty years after On Wenlock Edge, Vaughan Williams’s Blake settings are a moving swansong to the achievements of a remarkable creative life.

from notes by Michael Hurd 2000

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Details for CDA67168 track 11
The Shepherd
Recording date
27 October 1999
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Vaughan Williams: Songs (CDA67168)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: September 2000
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