Vaughan Williams turned again to Housman for the cycle Along the Field
, this time relying simply on a vocal line and a solo violin. Despite these apparent limitations (or maybe because of them) he achieves a miracle of expressiveness—the violin accompaniment ranging from the rhapsodic embellishments of ‘We’ll to the woods no more’ to the pedal drone of ‘Along the field’, and from the ghostly double-stopping of ‘The sigh that heaves the grasses’ (played ‘near the bridge’ to wonderfully hollow effect) to the perky Jig in ‘Fancy’s Knell’ that paints a lively picture of Shropshire lads dancing with their sweethearts. The soprano Joan Elwes, accompanied by Marie Wilson (for whom Vaughan Williams had already written The Lark Ascending
) gave the first performance on 24 October 1927 at the Grotrian Hall in Wigmore Street.
from notes by Michael Hurd © 2000