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On 12 October 1872, Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. He went on to become one of Britain’s most successful composers, finding his musical voice through influence of English folk song, Tudor music, as well as studies with the French composer Maurice Ravel.
In this video, violinist Hyeyoon Park and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor perform Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending in its original version for violin and piano. The work was completed in 1914, but was not performed until after the First World War in December 1920, when it was premiered by violinist Marie Hall and pianist Geoffrey Mendham.
’While this arrangement was actually written by Vaughan Williams before the familiar version with orchestra, it sounds to our ears like a transcription,’ said Park. ’With the timbre of the piano, it is somehow like a black and white photograph – creating new perspectives and different atmospheres.’
Vaughan Williams rearranged the work for solo violin and orchestra after the war, into the version that the piece is now chiefly known. In celebration of Vaughan Williams’s 150th anniversary, Park and Grosvenor have released this original version on Decca Classics, out today.