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CHAN 9617
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CHAN 9617

Williams: The Dancers

The Classical Shop
release date: March 1998

Originally recorded in 1997


City of London Sinfonia

Richard Hickox

Helen Watts


Caryl Thomas


Eiddwen Harrhy


Richard Hickox Singers



St Barnabas Church, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Bill Todd


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 57:31
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The Dancers*द

1 1 Gather for Festival 3:12
2 2 Tarantella 2:46
3 3 Roundelay 5:15
4 4 Lose the Pain in the Snow 3:16
5 5 To the Wild Hills! 4:59

Two Choruses‡§

6 1 Harp Song of the Dane Women 6:19
7 2 Mariners' Song 3:58
  Frank Lloyd and Christopher Larkin horns  

Ave Maris Stella§


Six Gerard Manley Hopkins Poems†

9 1 Pied Beauty 2:25
10 2 Peace 3:21
11 3 Spring and Fall 1:51
12 4 'No worst, there is none. . .' 3:38
13 5 Hurrahing the Harvest 2:44
14 6 The Windhover 2:30
  Simon Standage, Elizabeth Sheton violins  
  Richard Williamson, Simon Whistler violas  

Richard Hickox conducts an exciting combination of musicians in this unique collection of music from one of  Wale’s foremost composers.The music of Grace Williams has been shamefully under-recorded. The works featured on this disc are premiere recordings.

Grace Williams was born in Glamorganshire in 1906. After graduating from University College, Cardiff she studied with Vaughan Williams at Royal College of Music in London. From 1931 she worked in London, first as a teacher and then with the BBC. During the 1930’s she became friendly with Benjamin Britten who secured a number of film-music commissions for her. Towards the end of her life she returned to her home town where she devoted herself to composition and to freelance teaching, and broadcasting.

The Dancers, composed in 1951, is scored for soprano, women’s choir, string orchestra and harp. The first song is a charmingly fresh setting for soprano solo, of verses from a collection of Songs from Cyprus. After a suitably spirited setting of Belloc’s well-known Tarantella, soloist and choir join together for the first time in the deeply expressive Roundelay of Chatterton, which the composer sets as a kind of threnody. Grief is dispelled and death is transcended in the settings of verses by May Sarton and Kathleen Raine. As the soloist sings in the final song, "I will dance away death on the wild hills..."

The Two Choruses (Harp Song and Mariners’ Song) was Williams’s last complete work and it is fitting that its subject should be the sea, which had been such a constant source of inspiration to her throughout her life. The work as a whole is remarkably adventurous for so late a composition.

Musical images of the sea are much to the fore again in the setting for unaccompanied chorus of Ave maris stella. The first three words of the hymn are used as a refrain, and the supple phrases of the music suggest the soft swell of the sea.

When Grace WIlliams was commissioned to write a song-cyle for the 1958 Chaeltenham Festival she set herself no easy task by selecting poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (notoriously on of the most difficult poets to set) and then deciding on a string sextet to accompany the voice. It is a measure of her remarkable talent that this collection is often regarded as one of her finest works.

"Highly recommended."

The Delian - January 1999

"...There is no competition to compare these with, but I find it hard to picture any of them improved on. The chorus sings clearly and beautifully, achieving remarkable tone colouring along the way. Both soloists handle their parts superbly, the harpist is more than competent, and the orchestra plays very well.

The recorded sound is excellent. .. I found this a fascinating disc. Anyone interested in fine choral writing and singing - or in exploring a new pathway in music - should seek it out. And I predict we will be hearing more of Grace Williams."

McClain - American Record Guide - September/October 1999

"...The composer is at her finest on this CD in what is a vibrant and fulsome representation of one of  Wales’ most underestimate composers. The performers are excellent and have produced what I believe is a rewarding and enjoyable CD."

MH - Music Wales -1June -31 August 1998

I Dunn

I Miranda