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GUSTAV HOLST Music for Wind Symphony Band Dallas Wind Symphony / Howard Dunn rec 20-22 June 1990, Dallas REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-39CD [51:00]



Holst's distinctively flamboyant way with the brass is well known from The Planets and for those who delve a little deeper from The Perfect Fool ballet music (when will we get a recording of the complete opera?). Reference's recording quality excels the finest productions elsewhere. Can we hope for a complete Bantock or Arthur Butterworth brass band music next? Who will be first?

Everything here, apart from Hammersmith, is a popular staple among British and other brass bands (I recall an RCA Gold Seal LP featuring a Japanese Military band) [Tokyo Ground Self Defence Force Central Band GL40543 1977 - LM] .

The Suite No 1 (1909) has a Chaconne which must surely have in part inspired Britten's Young Person's Guide. The intermezzo uses the song I Love My Love woven artfully into the fabric. The quick march is all bloated self-importance.

The Moorside Suite (1928) is amongst the best of the works here with less of the coster's seaside outing about it than the other pieces. It is beggared only by the masterly Hammersmith. The inaugural scherzo perhaps recalls early morning hikes where Holst and Vaughan Williams strode out across the countryside and stepped up their pace in friendly rivalry. The Nocturne is all sadness amid the fields. The confident march is a 'call to arms' which dashed in with as much gusto-bred elan as the Perfect Fool music

With Suite No. 2 (1911) we are back to knotted kerchiefs and seaside high jinks. The march is pompous. The Song Without Words includes I Love My Love again and the Song of the Blacksmith punched out with ripe emphasis and swipe. There is even an anvil! The final Dargason fantasia uses the tune known as The Irish Washerwoman and counterpoints it with Greensleeves in what was the original version of the St Paul's Suite finale.

Hammersmith (1930) is, as notes say, much more ambitious - a tone poem with links to his own (orchestral) Egdon Heath for orchestra. There is an orchestral version of Hammersmith recorded by Boult for Lyrita. The mood links in with the fog and flares of a scene now long lost but impressionistically taking us there amid the Edwardian stalls more effectively than any time traveller. The military band version was not premiered until 1954. It has of course has been well done previously by Frederick Fennell and the Eastman Band on Philips and Mercury but this version now happily supplants that with its recording refinement.

The notes for this disc span 5pp and are in English only. They are by Richard Freed and Howard Dunn.

An excellent disc with high artistic and technical values. The music is superbly put across by the US band and done with both heartiness and heart! A considerable coup compromised only by the relatively brief playing time.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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