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Nocturne and Scherzo


On 22 May 1904 Vaughan Williams completed a Ballade and Scherzo for string quintet. But in 1906 he revised the Ballade as a Nocturne and wrote a completely new Scherzo ‘founded on an old English folk-song’. Here are the 1906 Nocturne and Scherzo, with the 1904 Scherzo as an extra. The Nocturne is what Holst would have called ‘the real RVW’. In the veiled beauty of its highly chromatic harmonies we hear already in evidence the tone-poet of the slow movement of A London Symphony, while – two years before he went to Ravel – in the fleet-footed Scherzo there is already a French influence in the way the folksong ‘As I walked out’ is subtly woven into the texture, only brief snatches of the tune being heard until the penultimate page when it receives fuller treatment. The 1904 Scherzo is a vigorous march with fugal episodes. No previous performances of these works have been traced before those at the British Library Conference Centre on 20 February 2001.

from notes by Michael Kennedy © 2002


Vaughan Williams: Early Chamber Music
CDA67381/22CDs Archive Service


Movement 1: Nocturne: Largo sostenuto, sempre tempo rubato
Track 4 on CDA67381/2 CD1 [6'35] 2CDs Archive Service
Movement 2: Scherzo 'founded on an English folksong': Allegro moderato
Track 5 on CDA67381/2 CD1 [3'38] 2CDs Archive Service

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