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.