British pianist Mark Bebbington’s album of less well-known works by Ralph Vaughan Williams has been receiving rave reviews. An almost totally neglected orchestral work of around 15 minutes, the Fantasia (Quasi Variazione) on the Old 104th, for solo piano, choir and orchestra (Bebbington, the City of London Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor, Hilary Davan Wetton) opens the recording, and is coupled with Vaughan Williams’s early Piano Quintet of 1904, the Romance for viola and piano, (the viola being the composer’s favourite instrument), and the evergreen The Lark Ascending in its original 1914 version for violin and piano.
"Mark Bebbington proves a persuasive, concentrated and articulate exponent, and he is backed to the hilt by the City of London Choir and RPO under Hilary Davan Wetton." - Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone
"Back in 1970 Sir Adrian Boult recorded Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on the ‘Old 104th’ Psalm Tune with Peter Katin, but the work has been ignored on record since. Its dramatic juxtapositions of Lisztian piano cadenzas with VW’s setting for choir and orchestra of Thomas Ravenscroft’s 17th-century psalm tune are stirringly captured on this new recording, where Mark Bebbington is the fiery soloist. Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton builds the piece effectively to a full-bore peroration, catching its occasionally unsettling mix of time-honoured sureties with a modern sense of dislocation." - Terry Blain, Classical Music