Author Topic: Non-Planets Holst  (Read 50197 times)

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Offline Christo

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2008, 12:47:53 PM »
I just downloaded the St. Paul's Suite-- delightful music!  I have no idea why I decided to do this, just out of the blue LOL
My only previous exposure to Holst has been, of course, The Planets.  But I will definitely have to investigate more of his stuff now...   

To quote myself once again: if you warm to this more 'popular' side of Holst, you might be equally interested in later, no less succesful attempts in a similar vein (as the St Paul's Suite):
* Brook Green Suite for strings
* A Moorside Suite - in its version for strings, with its beautiful Nocturne
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2008, 02:28:24 PM »
There is indeed some very personal music - apart from The planets.

Most interesting/great works have been mentioned. The Hymn of Jesus is, also for me, possibly Holst's masterpiece.

I have a weak spot for the very refined 7 partsongs, for women's voices and strings. ( An older version with imogen Holst/The Holst singers on Decca and Hickocx ( London ...) on EMI)

Seven Part-Songs, H162:

1.Say Who Is This?
2. O Love, I Complain 
3. Angel Spirits Of Sleep
4. When First We Met 
5. Sorrow And Joy 
6. Love On My Heart From Heaven Fell 
7. Assemble, All Ye Maidens 
The poems by Robert Bridges are lovely - very "Fin de siècle"..The last one ,'Assemble all ye maidens" is like a musical version of an Art Nouveau / Pre Rafaelite painting.

I suppose that lovers of Wagner and Bruckner should stay away however....

Peter

 

Offline MDL

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2008, 04:41:15 AM »
The Hymn of Jesus is wonderful.

Offline Pierre

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2008, 01:02:56 AM »
I have a weak spot for the very refined 7 partsongs, for women's voices and strings. ( An older version with imogen Holst/The Holst singers on Decca and Hickocx ( London ...) on EMI)


I think the recording by the Holst Singers on Hyperion is worth trying: the young voices are much closer to the kind of voices Holst was writing for, and the effect is quite different: emotionally more restrained and yet all the more poignant for that IMHO.

Offline Guido

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2008, 05:11:00 AM »
I have been reading this thread with interest. I love much of Holst's music, but a lot of the 'lighter' works leave me a little cold - stuff like The St Paul's Suite...

Being a cellist I of course love and have played Invocation (one wishes that he had composed a concerto...). Other pieces that I love are Egdon Heath, Ballet Music from the Perfect Fool, Savitri, Hammersmith, Lyric Movement, Hymn of Jesus, Seven Partsongs and the Somerset Rhapsody. I was also amazed at the textures he created with Terly Terlow for SATB with Oboe and Cello. Am I missing any important works? I have heard very little of the songs for choir or solo, and neither have I hear any of the operas besides the wonderful Savitri. The Cloud Messenger looks promising, and I am interested in the Japanese Suite - what's that like?
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 05:28:13 AM by Guido »
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2008, 06:46:18 AM »
I have been reading this thread with interest. I love much of Holst's music, but a lot of the 'lighter' works leave me a little cold - stuff like The St Paul's Suite...

Being a cellist I of course love and have played Invocation (one wishes that he had composed a concerto...). Other pieces that I love are Egdon Heath, Ballet Music from the Perfect Fool, Savitri, Hammersmith, Lyric Movement, Hymn of Jesus, Seven Partsongs and the Somerset Rhapsody. I was also amazed at the textures he created with Terly Terlow for SATB with Oboe and Cello. Am I missing any important works? I have heard very little of the songs for choir or solo, and neither have I hear any of the operas besides the wonderful Savitri. The Cloud Messenger looks promising, and I am interested in the Japanese Suite - what's that like?

Not quite sure what the 'lighter' works are to which you are referring but the Japanese Suite would definitely enter into that category-good fun but atypical Holst.

I love Holst's evocative, exotic Oriental Suite 'Beni Mora' although, again, it is relatively early Holst and not at all representative of the sparer, more austere later music like 'Egdon Heath'. I would strongly recommend the Scherzo for Orchestra(all that remains of a planned symphony) and the Double Concerto for Two Violins and small orchestra amongst the orchestral works. 'The Cloud Messenger' is a very fine choral piece but my favourite(apart from the 'Hymn of Jesus') is the quite remarkable Choral Fantasia, a work of late mystical spirituality which never fails to make an awe-inspiring impression on me.

Offline Guido

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2008, 11:07:11 AM »
Not quite sure what the 'lighter' works are to which you are referring but the Japanese Suite would definitely enter into that category-good fun but atypical Holst.

I love Holst's evocative, exotic Oriental Suite 'Beni Mora' although, again, it is relatively early Holst and not at all representative of the sparer, more austere later music like 'Egdon Heath'. I would strongly recommend the Scherzo for Orchestra(all that remains of a planned symphony) and the Double Concerto for Two Violins and small orchestra amongst the orchestral works. 'The Cloud Messenger' is a very fine choral piece but my favourite(apart from the 'Hymn of Jesus') is the quite remarkable Choral Fantasia, a work of late mystical spirituality which never fails to make an awe-inspiring impression on me.

I've just discovered that I have the Choral Fantasia so I will give that a listen, and I have the double violin concerto which I quite like. I have not heard the Scherzo - sounds interesting. Cheers.
Geologist.

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Offline Guido

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2008, 11:14:49 AM »
Does anyone have any opinions on the following pieces:

Ballets:
The Lure (1921)
The Golden Goose Op. 45 No.1 (1926)
The Morning of the Year Op. 45 No.2 (1926-27)

Chamber:
Phantasy Quartet on British Folksongs

Operas:
The Perfect Fool Op. 39 (1918-22)
At the Boar's Head Op. 42 (1924)
The Wandering Scholar Op. 50 (1929-30)

First Choral Symphony Op. 41 (1923-24)
and any other choral/vocal works.
Geologist.

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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2008, 01:49:24 PM »
Does anyone have any opinions on the following pieces:

Ballets:
The Lure (1921)
The Golden Goose Op. 45 No.1 (1926)
The Morning of the Year Op. 45 No.2 (1926-27)

Chamber:
Phantasy Quartet on British Folksongs

Operas:
The Perfect Fool Op. 39 (1918-22)
At the Boar's Head Op. 42 (1924)
The Wandering Scholar Op. 50 (1929-30)

First Choral Symphony Op. 41 (1923-24)
and any other choral/vocal works.

Sorry, me again!

Regarding the Ballets which you mention-

The music for "The Lure" is pretty short-available on Lyrita SRCD 209 conducted by David Atherton-and, although mature Holst, is relatively minor. That same CD also contains the Dances from "The Morning of the Year" but the entire Choral Ballet is coupled on a Hyperion CD with "The Golden Goose" with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton. That CD-CDA66784-may no longer be easily available. It also contained the early and somewhat immature "King Estmere" for chorus and orchestra.

I have to say that the Hyperion performances are a bit less than the best possible representation of either of the choral ballets(the Guildford Choral Society is weak at times) but I really do not think that either work is a masterpiece. Interesting pieces but certainly no match-in my opinion-for either the Hymn of Jesus or the Choral Fantasia.

The Choral Symphony is and odd work-very impressive in parts and with considerable beauty but with some weakness as well. Worth hearing certainly although I do prefer Vaughan Williams' large choral works.

I should leave others to comment on the operas!

Online vandermolen

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2008, 01:46:06 AM »
"The Cloud Messenger" is interesting. It has a beautiful proto-minimalist section which I never tire of hearing.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Pierre

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #30 on: May 17, 2008, 06:41:21 AM »
Does anyone have any opinions on the following pieces:

Ballets:
The Lure (1921)
The Golden Goose Op. 45 No.1 (1926)
The Morning of the Year Op. 45 No.2 (1926-27)

Chamber:
Phantasy Quartet on British Folksongs

Operas:
The Perfect Fool Op. 39 (1918-22)
At the Boar's Head Op. 42 (1924)
The Wandering Scholar Op. 50 (1929-30)

First Choral Symphony Op. 41 (1923-24)
and any other choral/vocal works.

The Lure (1921) - there's a splendid recording conducted by David Atherton (Lyrita). The ballet is clearly by the same composer who wrote The Planets and Perfect Fool, with a wonderful opening built from fifths: very simple but magical. Holst wrote the ballet in some haste, and one of its dances is clearly derived from a dance in the Japanese Suite, but still I think a very enjoyable piece.

The Golden Goose Op. 45 No.1 (1926) - there's an abbreviated version of this 'choral ballet', sans voices, conducted by Imogen Holst (Lyrita again) which is quite charming. But I think the complete version on Hyperion shows the true character of the piece - more fun and a greater sense of warmth, somehow. Yes, the Guildford Choral Society is rather rough and ready, but that seems quite appropriate for a work originally written for school children and amateur musicians.

The Morning of the Year Op. 45 No.2 (1926-27) - another 'choral ballet', which again (and more definitely) works better in its original version rather than the cold and lifeless hacked-up remains conducted by Atherton (on Lyrita, coupled with 'The Lure'). ie try the Hyperion recording for this.

The Wandering Scholar Op. 50 (1929-30) - a short but sweet opera. There's a superb recording with Norma Burrowes as the central character, Alice, and Michael Langdon as the lustful Father Philippe on EMI conducted by Steuart Bedford. Actually I think it's my favourite of the Holst operas - the story is light (about Alice trying to have a bit on the side while her husband is out on an errand) but charmingly done.

The Perfect Fool Op. 39 (1918-22) - this has never been recorded, except for the colourful and fun ballet music. I've only seen a vocal score and its a bizarre but deliberate mish-mash of styles (a bit of substandard Donizetti, a touch of Wagner, some angular Holst) which seems to be on one level a piss-take of certain cliches of opera, and on the other a strange, Symbolist work (perhaps in the same spirit as Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges, albeit not in the same musical style). I'd be delighted to hear or see this properly performed.

At the Boar's Head Op. 42 (1924) - This work has grown on me: there's an excellent recording by Atherton on EMI. Good humoured rather than bawdy in style, which I think has put some people off. But Prince Hal (sung by Philip Langridge) comes across as rather insufferable, which is quite appropriate.

First Choral Symphony Op. 41 (1923-24) - again this is a work which has grown on me, but even the best recording of this - conducted by Adrian Boult (EMI) - is rather too sober and misses a degree of the wild strangeness that (to me at least) the music suggests.

The one other choral work I'd warmly recommend is Ode to Death - an ecstatic, at times almost Delian work which was excellently recorded by the London Symphony Chorus with the London Philharmonic conducted by Charles Groves (*much* better than the Hickox version on Chandos).

Offline Guido

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2008, 03:06:44 PM »
Thanks very much Pierre and Dundonnell. I love reading posts from people who really know about a composer - as Sean has said in the past getting the complete view, with all its flaws is often very rewarding. I will certainly look into more of this stuff... Have been listening to Savitri and the Hymn of Jesus alot recently, it's just superb stuff.
Geologist.

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Offline Guido

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2008, 03:44:04 PM »
Pierre - I have followed up on a lot of these. The Wandering Scholar performed by Burrowes is out of print, and horrendously expensive on Amazon used and new. Is the Ingrid Attrot, Northern Sinfonia, Richard Hickox worth hearing?

EDIT: Just found it for a reasonable price on itunes.  :)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 03:46:08 PM by Guido »
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Offline Guido

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #33 on: June 03, 2008, 05:07:25 AM »
OK so I have recieved most of the CDs now... My admiration for Holst grown even more - The Cloud Messenger, The Lure, Ode to Death - all great works. When do you think that Holst's mature period starts? Planets its clearly mature with all its harmonic adventurousness etc. The Invocation sounds like it could be either, but I love it so I say its late! The later stuff I generally love, whereas the earlier stuff is a bit more hit and miss. I really like Indra and the Cotswolds Symphony, but don't like the Song of the Night as much.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #34 on: June 03, 2008, 07:07:52 AM »
OK so I have recieved most of the CDs now... My admiration for Holst grown even more - The Cloud Messenger, The Lure, Ode to Death - all great works. When do you think that Holst's mature period starts? Planets its clearly mature with all its harmonic adventurousness etc. The Invocation sounds like it could be either, but I love it so I say its late! The later stuff I generally love, whereas the earlier stuff is a bit more hit and miss. I really like Indra and the Cotswolds Symphony, but don't like the Song of the Night as much.

Anything written after Holst was 30, ie after 1904, is usually considered 'mature Holst', so the Cotswolds Symphony(1900) and Indra(1903) would be early Holst. So too would be A Winter Idyll(1897), Overture 'Walt Whitman'(1899), Suite de Ballet(1900), 'Indra'(1903), 'King Estmere'(1903).
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 08:19:36 AM by Dundonnell »

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2008, 07:16:23 AM »
Excellent and very informative thread! I know a few things by Holst that I like very much - 'Perfect Fool', 'Brook Green' suite, 'Planets', 'Ode to Death'... But there is so much more I'll have to explore!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Online vandermolen

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2008, 10:02:07 AM »
Excellent and very informative thread! I know a few things by Holst that I like very much - 'Perfect Fool', 'Brook Green' suite, 'Planets', 'Ode to Death'... But there is so much more I'll have to explore!

Try  "The Cloud Messenger", there are some lovely moments in it. Also, Egdon Heath and Hammersmith, Somerset Rhapsody, The Hymn Of Jesus, if you don't already know them. His music is overshadowed by "The Planets" (which I like).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #37 on: June 04, 2008, 10:23:13 AM »
Try  "The Cloud Messenger", there are some lovely moments in it. Also, Egdon Heath and Hammersmith, Somerset Rhapsody, The Hymn Of Jesus, if you don't already know them. His music is overshadowed by "The Planets" (which I like).

I know Egdon Heath very well, the Hymn of Jesus I heard only once, and the other pieces are just names. It's good to have music to look forward to!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Pierre

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #38 on: October 09, 2008, 12:50:30 PM »
'The Cloud Messenger' is a very fine choral piece but my favourite(apart from the 'Hymn of Jesus') is the quite remarkable Choral Fantasia, a work of late mystical spirituality which never fails to make an awe-inspiring impression on me.

I'm giving this message a bump as I wanted to second Dundonnell's enthusiasm for the Choral Fantasia - an extraordinarily powerful and consoling work, I think. Imogen Holst's recording is the one to get on EMI. I'm also astonished that I made no mention of this work when I last posted here.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Non-Planets Holst
« Reply #39 on: October 10, 2008, 11:30:35 AM »
I'm giving this message a bump as I wanted to second Dundonnell's enthusiasm for the Choral Fantasia - an extraordinarily powerful and consoling work, I think. Imogen Holst's recording is the one to get on EMI. I'm also astonished that I made no mention of this work when I last posted here.

I agree. I first came accross it decades ago on a great EMI LP with Finzi's Dies Natalis (Best ever version with Wilfrid Brown and Christopher Finzi) and with a fine Psalm arrangement also by Holst. His "other work" should be much better known but it is all over-shadowed by the popularity of The Planets.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).