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Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Walt Whitman Op.7 (1899) [7:14]
Suite de Ballet in E flat Op.10 (1899) [19:43]
Suite in E flat Op.28 No.1 orch. Gordon Jacob (1909) [10:12]
A Hampshire Suite Op. 28 No.2 orch. Gordon Jacob (1911) [11:18]
A Moorside Suite orch. Gordon Jacob (1928) [17:01]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
rec. Watford Town Hall, 14 Jan 1988 (Whitman); July and 23 August 1993 (Suite E flat); 26 August 1993 (Hampshire, Moorside); Kingsway Hall, 7 March 1980 (Suite de Ballet). ADD (Suite de Ballet); DDD
LYRITA SRCD.210 [63:31]

A very welcome Holst release from Lyrita, particularly given the fact that this disc steers clear of the better-known works and focuses on more obscure pieces instead.

The mystical poet Walt Whitman was one who appealed to, and was set by, a number of British composers. Stanford, for example, set him in his Elegiac Ode, while Vaughan Williams was later to draw significantly upon Whitman for his Sea Symphony and Towards the Unknown Region, and Delius in Sea Drift. Holst wrote his Walt Whitman Overture in 1899, seven years after Whitman’s death. Although a fairly early work, showing the influence of composers such as Wagner, Brahms and Mendelssohn, it is nonetheless a fine piece, and contains some extremely assured writing. This is excellently demonstrated in this confident, first-rate performance.

This is followed by the beautiful Suite de Ballet, with its varied moods – from gossamer delicacy to ebullient dances and march-like music - which receives evocative and sympathetic treatment.

The composer Gordon Jacob orchestrated the rest of the works on the disc - the Suite in E flat, Hampshire Suite and Moorside Suite, which are possibly better known in their original military/brass band versions. All of these are, as one might expect, jovial and buoyant. Holst’s immense skill is on full view here, not only in writing pieces that are wonderfully characterful and rousing, constantly full of interest as well as emotionally engaging, but also in often poignant interweaving of folksong melodies. Excellent performances of pieces that are well worth hearing.

Em Marshall

see also review by Rob Barnett and Stephen Hall


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