Album: Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge – Mark Padmore/Schubert Ensemble (CHANDOS)

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The Independent Culture

Sharp lines and lucid textures etch a clean instrumental background to Mark Padmore's vocals in Vaughan Williams's Housman cycle, whose "blue remembered hills" provide the location for these confessions of a troubled heart.

The composer's lessons with Ravel resulted in rain-washed, bell-soaked harmonies that draw us into the land of lost content, where Padmore is poised on a knife-edge between resignation and despair. The disc's makeweights are the early, Brahmsian Piano Quintet and the exquisitely sad Romance and Pastorale for violin and piano, played with rapt intensity by Simon Blendis and William Howard.