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Savitri,7 Part Songs, Choral Hymns from Rig Veda


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Savitri,7 Part Songs, Choral Hymns from Rig Veda + Holst: Vedic Hymns; Four Songs for Voice and Violin; Humbert Wolfe Songs
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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 Sept. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Australian Eloquence
  • ASIN: B004I65C6Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,178 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Choral Hymns from the Rig-veda - Osian Ellis/The Purcell Singers - Osian Ellis/The Purcell Singers
2. Savitri - Various Performers - Various Performers
3. Seven Part-songs, Op. 44 - The Purcell Singers/English Chamber Orchestra - The Purcell Singers/English Chamber Orchestra
4. The Evening-watch, Op. 43, No. 1 - The Purcell Singers - The Purcell Singers

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr Stephen Hall, Ireland on 15 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase
If all you know of Gustav Holst is 'The Planets' then this and the other Decca Eloquence Holst will surprise and delight you.
The recordings first appeared on Argo in the 1960s with the composer's daughter conducting and we should thank Eloquence Australia and Amazon for making these masterpieces available. Please see my other reviews of these CDs.
The chamber opera Savitri is an early work owing bits to Wagner but still far better than Holst's other attempts at opera. He was a genius with the human voice but not in opera.
These discs give us a chance to hear Part Songs and chamber works from Holst's various periods in his too short life.
I could try to describe the beauty of the music but only hearing it will do so I recommend buying the reissues NOW.
Pricing is more than fair, especially as full texts are supplied of some poetry now out of print. This is another good reason for buying these discs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 May 2013
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Long before a fashionable interest in Oriental cultures flourished in the swinging sixties in England, Gustav Holst had become `enthralled by Hindu literature and philosophy', so his daughter Imogen informs us. He learned enough Sanskrit to translate and set to music poems from the Rig Veda, and four choral settings of these are given on this disc. He also wrote his own libretto for a chamber opera Savitri, based on an episode in the Mahabharata, and we are given a very fine and atmospheric performance of this cold masterpiece with Janet Baker, Robert Tear and Thomas Hemsley in the solo roles. To complete the seventy minutes or so of the disc there are seven part-songs to poems by Holst's friend Robert Bridges plus an elusive setting of a 17th century dialogue by Henry Vaughan in which the Soul tells the Body what sleep really means.

Everything here is for small forces. The Purcell Singers are partnered by harpist Osian Ellis in the Rig Veda poems: we have the same chorus with our three soloists and an ECO semi-orchestra in Savitri; the same minus the soloists in the Bridges numbers; and back to the Purcell Singers alone in the final Vaughan setting. All performances are directed by Imogen Holst. The recordings were done in 1965, and I have no complaint with them, whether or not they are to standards evolved over later decades. The impressions that these compositions left with me allowed little room for weighing up niceties in that department.

The big item here is the extraordinary Savitri. Holst's libretto is in prose, using much the kind of idiom that Bridges deploys in verse, which could be called early-20th-century conservative.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. C. Smith on 29 May 2011
Holst's music for the human voice is marvellous. I suspect it is for many less well known than some of the orchestral pieces. If you who want to try the non-Planets Holst look no further than this disc which contains excellent music excellently sung. If I had to pick one piece it would be 'The Evening Watch' to words by Henry Vaughan, but it's all great and inspiring music. Enjoy!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Simply beautiful music, a must-have for Holst fans. 18 Jan. 2013
By chrisd - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I'm not sure if this was ever released on CD until this Eloquence reissue, but having owned and listened to the Argo LP of the Choral Hymns and Savitri, I can tell you that they did this transfer quite well. A CD will never sound like an LP, for both better and worse, but they really did balance the tracks nicely and preserve almost all of the life in the tapes, while using perhaps a bit of noise reduction for the tape hiss (which is pretty minimal).

I can't go into too much technical detail about the music, but you probably wouldn't be looking at this without some knowledge of the works present here. That being said, I would be surprised if this wasn't the definitive recording of the aforementioned pieces (I'm not at all familiar with the last two pieces on the album, which I think weren't present on the Savitri LP). The vocals are wonderfully executed, the small orchestra does it's thing, and the result is you are transported to a different place. The mysticism, astrology, and religion that Holst was getting into is really apparent here, as it is in much of the Planets. Not surprisingly, listeners familiar with the quieter Planet movements will probably find more than a few phrases on this disc familiar in one way or another.

Definitely recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
DISPOSING OF DEATH 3 May 2013
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Long before a fashionable interest in Oriental cultures flourished in the swinging sixties in England, Gustav Holst had become `enthralled by Hindu literature and philosophy', so his daughter Imogen informs us. He learned enough Sanskrit to translate and set to music poems from the Rig Veda, and four choral settings of these are given on this disc. He also wrote his own libretto for a chamber opera Savitri, based on an episode in the Mahabharata, and we are given a very fine and atmospheric performance of this cold masterpiece with Janet Baker, Robert Tear and Thomas Hemsley in the solo roles. To complete the seventy minutes or so of the disc there are seven part-songs to poems by Holst's friend Robert Bridges plus an elusive setting of a 17th century dialogue by Henry Vaughan in which the Soul tells the Body what sleep really means.

Everything here is for small forces. The Purcell Singers are partnered by harpist Osian Ellis in the Rig Veda poems: we have the same chorus with our three soloists and an ECO semi-orchestra in Savitri; the same minus the soloists in the Bridges numbers; and back to the Purcell Singers alone in the final Vaughan setting. All performances are directed by Imogen Holst. The recordings were done in 1965, and I have no complaint with them, whether or not they are to standards evolved over later decades. The impressions that these compositions left with me allowed little room for weighing up niceties in that department.

The big item here is the extraordinary Savitri. Holst's libretto is in prose, using much the kind of idiom that Bridges deploys in verse, which could be called early-20th-century conservative. That suits me very well, believing as I do that more distinguished poetic expression tends not to go very well to music, at any rate not where English is concerned unless the composer is Britten, whose knowledge of English poetry probably surpassed that of many a professor of the subject. Here in Savitri, and also in the Rig Veda poems and the Bridges items, the music has the chance to outshine its text, and that is the way I like it. Savitri is atmospheric and more than atmospheric. It relates how the devoted wife Savitri persuades Death himself to release his hold on her husband Satyavan. Deeply affected by Savitri's devotion to her husband and her proper respect for himself, Death even lets himself be tricked and bidden `Back to thy kingdom'. I dare say she would not get away with that again, but for now the music has real if icy power, and the singers do it justice as you might expect. Right at the beginning, where Death sings unaccompanied from a distance I wondered slightly whether Hemsley was exactly in tune, but it hardly matters, and Hemsley is more than impressive closer-to and benefiting from orchestral support in the later sequences.

Everything else seems to me admirable as well. There is not a lot of music quite like this, so I am grateful for what I have got here, indeed not just grateful but strongly affected by the atmosphere of it all. Death, where is thy sting? When he returned to his kingdom I dare say he fetched it for his next excursion into the company of mortal men and women, but even so Savitri sings with conviction that Death works alone, but Life is communion, eternal and greater than Death himself. I wonder how that is to be understood.
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