Pianist Mark Bebbington and the Somm label present The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, a complete collection of Vaughan Williams’s compositions for solo and duo piano. Romanian-Nigerian pianist Rebeca Omordia joins Bebbington for the album’s two duo-piano selections.
The duo-piano selections are perhaps the most striking on the album. The “Introduction and Fugue for Two Pianos” was composed by Vaughan Williams for the famous piano duo Phyllis Sellick and Cyril Smith, and the piece receives its debut recording on the album. The second two-piano work on the album is Vaughan Williams’s own arrangement of his string orchestra work “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.”
Some of Vaughan Williams’s piano music is closely tied to music of the past. He composed the Choral Prelude on Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Ach, bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ” in honor of pianist Harriet Cohen in 1930. Cohen also gave the premiere performance of Vaughan Williams’s “Hymn-Tune Prelude” based on English Renaissance composer Orlando Gibbons’s “Song 13.”
Bebbington, a champion of English music, will perform as a soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra later this month.