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Holst: Choral Works


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Audio CD, April 2, 1996
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Product Details

  • Performer: Joyful Company of Singers
  • Orchestra: City of London Sinfonia
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Composer: Gustav Holst
  • Audio CD (April 2, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • Run Time: 59 minutes
  • ASIN: B000000AYN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,362 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Seven Partsongs, op. 44
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. Asemble, all ye maidens
8. A Choral Fantasia, op. 51
9. A Dirge for two Veterans
10. Ode to Death, op. 38

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G.C. on August 13, 2014
This Chandos album is a nice compilation of choral works of Gustav Holst that set poems by the then-British poet laureate Robert Bridges and by Walt Whitman. The settings of Bridges dominate on this album, in the 'Seven Part Songs' and 'A Choral Fantasia', which cover about 2/3 of the running time. 'A Dirge for Two Veterans' and the 'Ode to Death' are the Whitman settings. Throughout, Holst shows good sense in his choral settings, as well as the settings for solo soprano voice of the Bridges texts where needed. Everything is appealing and well crafted, but it has to be said honestly that the works don't quite stay in your mind the way that melodies from 'The Planets' or other of his purely instrumental works do. The two that come closest are probably the 'Choral Fantasia' and the 'Ode to Death', in terms of being more striking in personality. Yet it says something about Holst's apparent way of not trying to cultivate popular success that he would choose such a superficially unappealing title as 'Ode to Death' for that particular work, even if that is a title truthful to the spirit of the text.

All the performances here are expert and professional, with Richard Hickox providing solid, straightforward podium leadership, and the chorus and orchestra doing just fine, with Patricia Rozario also a solid presence in her solo work. Yet, as seemed often with Hickox, his straightforward approach doesn't necessarily make you stand up and immediately register these works as neglected masterpieces. Everything is in its place, but doesn't necessarily take off to more from there.

So my overall inclination for the performances is 3.5 stars. However, since these works still remain neglected, given the general fate of Holst as a 'one-hit wonder' composer, I'll round up the rating to 4. This album is a good listen for people who want to learn about Holst beyond 'The Planets'.
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