- Fantasia on Christmas Carols for baritone, chorus & orchestra
- On Christmas Night, ballet
- The First Nowell, opera (completed by Douglas)
Cheerful agnostic that he was, Ralph Vaughan Williams still loved Christmas, and especially Christmas carols. One of the first things he wrote as a child was a carol and one of the last things he wrote as a very old man was a carol, and in between he wrote more Christmas music than any other first-rank twentieth century composer. This 2008 Chandos disc does not include the best known of his Christmas works, "Hodie," a nearly hour-long setting of the Christmas story, but it does include three of his best Christmas pieces. One is a world premiere: the 1926 "On Christmas Night," a masque adopted from Dickens' A Christmas Carol. One is a world premiere in this form: the 1912 "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" in an arrangement for strings and organ. The last is just rarely recorded: "The First Nowell, A Nativity Play." All three take traditional English Christmas carols as their basis and elaborate their form from there. All three receive excellent performances from the forces under Richard Hickox's direction. Those forces include the dulcet soprano Sarah Fox, the stalwart baritone Roderick Williams, the aptly named Joyful Company of Singers, and the chamber-sized (but by no means underpowered) City of London Sinfonia. The performances are sincere and deeply musical and polished in a way that makes them fairly glow. Chandos' digital sound is rich, ripe, and colorful.