I went to see the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) perform Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872 - 1958) on Tuesday. This was the last of the SCO's excellent Cl@six series. The performance was in St Cuthbert's church which is a beautiful venue and great acoustics. It was a full house.
I love Ralph Vaughn Williams. Playing Fantasia on Greensleeves brought him to my attention again recently. There is a Vaughn Williams Society, which was formed in 1994 to promote his work. Many of his pieces (and he was very productive) were not well known - particularly his operas. The Society describes him as follows:
"Ralph Vaughan Williams is arguably the greatest composer Britain has seen since the days of Henry Purcell. In a long and extensive career, he composed music notable for its power, nobility and expressiveness, representing, perhaps, the essence of ‘Englishness’. "
At the turn of the century he was among the very first to travel into the countryside to collect folk-songs and carols from singers, notating them for future generations to enjoy. It was performed by Alexander Janiczek. Knowing how difficult the violin is to play - I am amazed at the skill and ability to play at this level. The piece took six years to write as it is played now. It was inspired by a poem written by George Meredith which was apparently not very good. Whatever - it certainly led to Vaughn Williams writing a brilliant piece of music. I thought it was stunning.
They also played Mendelssohn Overture, Son & Stranger and Schubert's Symphony No 5. They were performed fine but were overshadowed by Lark Ascending in my view. Here is brief clip of Nicola Benedetti playing as shown on the Andre Marr show. If you are having a stressful day I can recommend watching it - beautiful.