Three Shakespeare Songs comprises three short movements setting texts from Shakespeare's The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. They were composed as test pieces for the 1951 British Federation of Music Festivals National Competitive Festival. The atmospheric first movement, 'Full fathom five', is mystical and beguiling, with eerie, hypnotic mimicry of bell tolls in the upper voices. 'The Cloud-Capp'd Towers', the slower central movement, recalls Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 6 in its harmonic language, while the third movement 'Over hill, over dale' is lively conclusion to the set, full of harmonic and rhythmic interest.
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Vaughan Williams has come to be regarded as one of the finest British composers of the 20th century. He has a particularly wide-ranging catalogue of works, including choral works, symphonies, concerti, and opera. His searching and visionary imagination, combined with a flexibility in writing for all levels of music-making, has meant that his music is as popular today as it ever has been.