Friday, December 26, 2014

Vaughn Williams: "Hodie"; a note about caroling

When I lived in my own apartments or condos, especially in other cities, I usually totted out some Christmas music, either on vinyl (the old days) or CD.  I would play Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”, an RCA recording with the St. Louis Symphony.  In the good old days in Dallas, when they had the Crossroads Market on Cedar Springs (in the late 1980s), Bill Nelson would play it a lot in the store, and his favorite passage was not the conclusion, but the “pas de deux” in G Major just before the end.

But the main event for Christmas Day was always “Hodie” (or “This Day”), am hour long Christmas cantata by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1954).  I have a 1965 ADD recording with David Willcocks on EMI Angel. There is a different performance on YouTube that runs a little longer.

The music is loud, virile, and triumphant.  It is also characteristically modal (Lydian).  The pompous ending settles in on G Major.  There are many little festive solos and ensembles. 

Christmas Day, I did join the Trinity Presbyterian Church caroling at the Virginia Hospital Center. Having a background in piano does not guarantee an adequate adult voice, a totally separate world.   This time, we made it to the maternity ward in the older section of the hospital.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a newborn baby just an hour or two after birth before.  

Remember, today is Boxing Day.  It is still Christmas in Britain and Canada.  

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