"Do you realize," a friend told composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, "that none of your best-sellers are your own?"
He was referring to the Fantasia on Greensleeves and the English Folk Songs Suite. And while it's a clever remark that the composer found very funny, the truth is, all three works are very much his own.
In fact, one could argue that Vaughan Williams' particular form of greatness is not in saying things that have never been said before--but in presenting familiar or forgotten things in a way that makes them seem fresh and relevant.
In this hour, an exploration of two of Vaughan Williams' best-loved works, and the folk songs that inspired them.
Ralph Vaughan Williams (Vernon Handley) EMI Eminence CD-EMX 2179
Under the Greenwood Tree Naxos 8.553442
Vaughan Williams: The Collector's Edition, disc 10 EMI 2066362
Homeward Bound (US Navy Sea Chanters) Coker & McCree (iTunes download)
Anne Briggs: A Collection Topic Records TSCD504
Alan Lomax: Classic Ballads of Britain & Ireland, Vol. 2 Rounder Records 1776
The Gordons: Time Will Tell Our Story Blueberry Hill BBH 122
Luke Kelly: Working Class Hero Celtic Airs Records CACD0203
Heather Wood: Fast Folk (Vol. 3, No. 9), Songs of Tradition iTunes download]
Martin Simpson: The Bramble Briar Topic Records TSCD513
HeartSounds: Behind the Green Bushes HeartSounds 610 388 7523
Bournemouth Symphony: English String Music Naxos 8.550823