There was a time, within the memory of some members of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, when recordings of the works of our honored composer were to be treasured for their very existence. In the 1963 Gramophone Catalog, the earliest I own, the Vaughan Williams listing covers barely three-quarters of a page. Fortunately, those pioneering recordings were most often made by champions of the composer’s work, conductors bringing deep insights into his music grown out of years of friendship and shared experience. By the time that Society co-founder and Vaughan Williams authority Stephen Connock first produced his selective discography in 1994, the situation had changed dramatically. The catalog of recordings had grown significantly, and while many of the performances—classic and new—were worthy, it was apparent that some guidance to those wishing to explore the repertoire would be helpful, both to recall recordings of special merit to experienced members and hidden treasures they may have missed, and to assist the newer listener in locating recordings that establish important benchmarks in the catalog.
Ronald E. Grames – 2022