Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton led the new CD of Ralph Vaughan Williams Hodie. Photo from the Guilford Choral Society.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Hodie/four out of five stars
One of the most frequent comments about Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Hodie (pronounced Ho-dee-yay) is the remarkable energy of the score for it having been written late in the composer’s life. Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Guilford Choral Society honor that legacy with their new recording of Vaughan Williams’ work, whose title had the vital translation “this day.” The day in question is that of Jesus Christ’s birth, and the tone is appropriately celebratory -- no dwelling on darker Easter themes here. The work is in a familiar Nine Lessons and Carols-type format, with the narrations coming in the sweet, rounded voices of the St. Catherine’s Middle School Choir. Exemplifying the youthful energy of Vaughan Williams’ late-life composition is its pairing on the disc with the composer’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols, written 42 years before Hodie. The 11-minute work is often paired with the cantata on recordings. Here, the Fantasia is given a gregarious reading, particularly by baritone Stephen Gadd, who also sings on Hodie, along with tenor Peter Hoare and soprano Janice Watson. The performances of all the artists and the glistening works, along with Naxos Records’ nice price tag of under $10, make this a Christmas keeper.
Check this out: Charles Bertram's fantastic photos from George Zack's final Messiah.