Folk Songs Volume 3

Folk songs from the Eastern Counties

This is the third in a series of four albums recording all 81 (originally 80 but we turned up another one!) of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin. 57 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements.

This album has 21 tracks including 14 world premières. The principal collection (15 tracks) comprises folk songs collected by Vaughan Williams himself from ‘The Eastern Counties’ – primarily Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire – and published by him in these arrangements in 1908. These are thus the earliest works in the series. Additionally, there are Twelve Traditional Country Dances arranged for Maud Karpeles in 1931 and songs from The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs and from The Motherland Song Book.

Robert Moore wrote of Volumes 1 and 2 in The American Record Guide: ‘These wonderful performances are everything I can imagine VW would have hoped for. When the project is completed, it will stand as one of the finest testaments to his life. The program notes give valuable background information about the songs and the process of recording them. Texts are included though the singers’ diction is so clear that they are hardly needed.’

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.

Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust logo
Folk songs CD

14 World Premières!


Most of this disc is dedicated to songs the composer collected in the eastern counties and published in 1908. To aficionados, much will be familiar: Bushes and Briars, the first song he collected (in a Darby and Joan Club in Essex in December 1903), here superbly sung by our finest living baritone, Roderick Williams; the other vocalists are soprano Mary Bevan and tenor Nicky Spence, accompanied by William Vann. Two songs from King’s Lynn – The Captain’s Apprentice and On Board a Ninety-Eight – were later reused in his first Norfolk Rhapsody, and there are other staples of the genre, such as Ward, the Pirate and As I Walked Out. The fourth and final album is out next year, for the composer’s sesquicentenary, and it can’t come soon enough.

Simon Heffer
Sunday Telegraph

PRICE: £10.99 + 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 the Eastern Counties (1908)

  1. Bushes and Briars
  2. Tarry Trowsers
  3. A Bold Young Farmer
  4. The Lost Lady Found
  5. As I Walked Out
  6. The Lark in the Morning
  7. On Board a Ninety-Eight
  8. The Captain’s Apprentice
  9. Ward, the Pirate
  10. The Saucy Bold Robber
  11. The Bold Princess Royal
  12. The Lincolnshire Farmer
  13. The Sheffield Apprentice
  14. Geordie
  15. Harry, the Tailor
    1. Twelve Traditional Country Dances (1931) Piano solo

The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (1959)  

    1. Salisbury Plain
    2. Banks of Green Willow
    3. The Basket of Eggs

The Motherland Song Book, Volume III (1919)

    1. We be three poor mariners
    2. The Arethusa

Total recording time 60’42″.

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

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

Tracks 1, 6 and 8 were previously issued on ALBCD038, Time and Space.

Andrew Walton producer;
Deborah Spanton engineer;
Henry Wood Hall, London, June 2020.

Ralph Vaughan Williams:
Folk Songs Volume 3
Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties
Release Date: 24 September 2021
(CD, downloads, streaming up to 24 bits)