Folk Songs Volume 1

Folk song arrangements for voice and piano or violin

This is the first in a series of four albums recording all 80 of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin.

57 of the 80 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements, so there is a good deal of unknown – but very beautiful – music to be found here. 

This first album has 23 tracks including 15 world premières. It includes Folk Songs from Sussex (1912) and Six English Folk Songs (1935). Later volumes will include songs collected in the Eastern Counties (1908), the Appalachian Mountains (about 1938) and from Newfoundland (1946). Vaughan Williams is well known as a collector of folk songs, but his own collection by no means predominates in this series; most of the arrangements were made and published as a collaborative effort, drawn from many sources.

The 14 songs from Sussex on this album were all collected by Percy Merrick from Henry Hills, a farmer from Lodsworth, Sussex, around 1900. Some will be well-known in other arrangements; others will be unfamiliar.

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. 

In 2010, British violinist Jack Liebeck won a Classical Brit in the young British classical performer category. 

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.

Folk songs CD

15 World Premières!


… the artful, sometimes filigree piano parts that wouldn’t disgrace a Schubert lied.

Soloists Roderick Williams, Nicky Spence and Mary Bevan are all persuasive, while the composer’s instrumental elaborations (William Vann, piano) have a beauty and interest all their own. This first trip to Vaughan Williams’s folk song workshop is an absolute tonic and delight.

Geoff Brown The Times


Jack Liebeck (violin) provides a welcome extra dimension. The chorus parts are quite modest in scope but the singers add interest to the setting. Albion Records recruited some fine singers and they make a very good contribution.

The songs on this present disc could scarcely receive better advocacy. All three singers enter fully into the spirit of the songs and sing them with commitment and, as you’d expect, a high degree of skill. Occasionally, they deliver the songs in appropriately rustic accents but this touch is never overdone. They treat the songs with the respect they deserve and, my goodness, does it pay off. William Vann accompanies expertly throughout.

Engineer Deborah Spanton has recorded the performers most sympathetically and the documentation is first class. I enjoyed this disc from start to finish.

John Quinn Musicweb International

PRICE: (Order in advance – release date: 23 October 2020) £9.99 + post and packing 

(nb. You do not need a Paypal account to purchase)

Postage is fixed at £3 per order – to anywhere in the world – irrespective of the number of CDs in the order.


Folk Songs from Sussex (1912)

      1. Bold General Wolfe
      2. Low Down in the Broom
      3. The Thresherman and the Squire
      4. The Pretty Ploughboy
      5. Who is that that Raps at My Window?
      6. How Cold the Wind doth Blow
      7. Captain Grant
      8. Farewell, Lads
      9. Come, All You Worthy Christians
      10. The Turkish Lady
      11. The Seeds of Love
      12. The Maid of Islington
      13. Here’s Adieu to all Judges and Juries
      14. Lovely Joan

Six English Folk Songs (1935)

        1. Robin Hood and the Pedlar
        2. The Ploughman
        3. One Man, Two Men
        4. The Brewer
        5. Rolling in the Dew
        6. King William

Sea Songs from The Motherland Song Book, Vol IV (1919)

          1. The Golden Vanity
          2. Just as the Tide was Flowing
          3. The Spanish Ladies

Total CD length 68’41.

Mary Bevan MBE soprano
Nicky Spence tenor
Roderick Williams OBE baritone
Jack Liebeck violin

William Vann musical director and pianist

Helen Ashby, Kate Ashby (sopranos),
Cara Curran (alto), Benedict Hymas (tenor), James Arthur, Nicholas Ashby (basses)

ALBCD042 Ralph Vaughan Williams: Folk Songs Volume 1
Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London, June 2020
(CD format, downloads and streaming)