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Ralph Vaughan Williams played viola.


Vaughan Williams played viola.  That is why he wrote such gorgeous  music for it.

Flos Campi (Flower of the field) for viola, wordless chorus and orchestra. Based on the Song of Solomon.

1.As the lily among thorns
2.For, lo, the winter is past
3.I sought him whom my soul loveth
4.Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s
5.Return, return, O Shulamite!
6.Set me as a seal upon thine heart

 

“‘Vaughan Williams played the viola, and frequently professed it was his favorite instrument. Along with the Suite for viola and orchestra of 1934, his most significant work for the instrument is the unusual Flos Campi (Flower of the Field), which combines the viola with a spare orchestral backing of strings, winds, tabor, and celesta, along with a mixed choir that sings wordlessly. It was first performed on October 10, 1925, in London, with violist Lionel Tertis, voices from the Royal College of Music, and the Queen’s Hall Orchestra conducted by Sir Henry Wood. The reaction was mixed, and even such close friends of the composer as Gustav Holst admitted themselves puzzled by this subtle and voluptuous work.

In a program note for a 1927 performance, Vaughan Williams admitted “The title Flos Campi was taken by some to connote an atmosphere of ‘buttercups and daisies….'” This is, in fact, far from the atmosphere of this work. Each of its six movements is headed by a quotation from the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon, and it is the passionate quality of that text which informs Flos Campi.”     Review by  Chris Morrison, All Music Guide

 

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