Folk Songs Volume 4

Folk Songs from Newfoundland

This is the fourth and final instalment in a series of four albums recording all 81 of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin. 57 of the 81 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements.

 This album has 19 tracks including 13 world premières. All but four of the songs were collected by Maud Karpeles in Newfoundland in 1929 and 1930. When she got back, she and Vaughan Williams spent some hours going through everything that she had found, selecting the 15 songs presented here – with an emphasis, it seems, on the sadder songs.

Praised by Opera for her “dramatic wit and vocal control”, British soprano Mary Bevan is internationally renowned in baroque, classical and contemporary repertoire, and appears regularly with leading conductors, orchestras and ensembles around the world.

Opera singer Nicky Spence is one of Scotland’s proudest sons and his unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty of his musicianship are steadfastly earning him a place at the top of the classical music profession.

Roderick Williams is one of this country’s most sought after baritones and is constantly in demand, encompassing a repertoire from the baroque to world premières. In 2016 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer of the Year award.

A multiple-prize winning and critically acclaimed conductor and accompanist, William Vann is equally at home on the podium or at the piano and is the founder and Artistic Director of the London English Song Festival.

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Folk songs 4 cd

13 World Premières!
19 Tracks


These four volumes are a delight in every way. The recorded sound is consistently excellent. Each is beautifully designed. This project now stands as one of the finest testaments to VW’s life.

Robert Moore American Record Guide


I can’t say that I found a special favourite here; every item is a delightful little gem. Five stars: The superb fourth and last instalment of Vaughan Williams’s complete folk song settings.

James Altena Fanfare


The three singers, soprano Mary Bevan, tenor Nicky Spence and baritone Roderick Williams are so well chosen to capture the very spirit of English Song. Their voices are clean and clear and since almost all these songs tell a story, their perfect diction is just what is needed here, although the accompanying booklet does print all the words of the songs. Every setting is instantly attractive, sung and sometimes acted out too by the performers. It was great to come across some old musical friends but in fresh garb as presented by Vaughan Williams and his four superb performers.

Alan Cooper British Music society


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A Selection of Less Known Folk Songs, Volume 2 (1935)

    1. The Jolly Plough Boy 0’58

Folk Songs for Schools (1912)

    1. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale 1’54
    2. Servant Man and Husbandman 3’57

The Turtle Dove (1934)

    1. The Turtle Dove 2’58

Fifteen Folk Songs from Newfoundland (1934)

    1. Sweet William’s Ghost 6’23
    2. The Cruel Mother 2’53
    3. The Gypsy Laddie 1’56
    4. The Bloody Gardener 4’04
    5. The Bonny Banks of Virgie-o
    6. Earl Brand 3’30
    7. Lord Akeman 8’23
    8. The Lover’s Ghost 3’08
    9. She’s like the Swallow 2’16
    10. The Maiden’s Lament 1’56
    11. Proud Nancy 2’55
    12. The Morning Dew 1’37
    13. The Winter’s Gone and Past 2’42
    14. The Cuckoo 1’38
    15. Young Floro 3’16

Total recording time: 60’39

Mary Bevan MBE soprano
Nicky Spence tenor
Roderick Williams OBE baritone
William Vann musical director and pianist

John Francis Executive Producer
Andrew Walton Producer (K & A Productions
Deborah Spanton engineer (K & A Productions)

Track 4 was recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk on 28 November 2018 

The remaining tracks were recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London from 7–11 June 2020 

Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Folk Songs Volume 4
Release Date: TBC
(CD, downloads, streaming up to 24 bits)



With special thanks 

Principal Sponsor: The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust