Just one more for Christmas …

December 27, 2015 at 9:20 am

… and then I’ll stop and move on. I promise.

Welsh composer Ralph Vaughan Williams composed two major works for Christmas. Neither is neglected, though they haven’t achieved the same level of popularity as the A-list of holiday Art Music. The first is the Fantasia on Christmas Carols, which is on the B-list because the carols selected are not top-40 (perhaps 41-80?)

The second is the oratorio Hodie, which includes biblical texts along with poetry and hymns – not unlike Bach’s own Christmas Oratorio and the cantatas of Protestant Germany. Today I’ve selected the first movement of the oratorio – the movement after which the complete work gets its name. This piece absolutely tickles me, because it is the closest to Leonard Bernstein that Vaughan-Williams’ music ever gets (though it doesn’t get very close …). Vaughan-Williams composed in a very conservative style, so a movement like this with changing dance rhythms and meters is about as wild as he can get. How wild? Like wearing a tuxedo and … unbuttoning your jacket! Or maybe wearing an country suit to a city supper.

So, not very wild. But give the guy some credit.