Gustav Holst (1974-1934) was one of the most original English composers of the first half of the 20th century. He was a superb orchestrator, had a fine melodic gift and was a harmonic innovator. He had to earn his living from teaching and ill health dogged him throughout his life so his output was relatively small and there is a preponderance of short works which are well represented on this CD. Apart from the Two Songs without Words (1902), they are relatively late works.
Several pieces are in a pared down neoclassical style - the Fugal Concerto and Double Concerto, for example, whereas the Golden Goose ballet music is more richly harmonised and romantic in style.
It would be tedious to describe each work but I will mention some aspects of those which appeal to me. The Nocturne from a Moorside Suite (originally for brass band) has wonderful Holstian melody, slightly quirky and totally memorable. The Double Concerto for two Violins is a marvellous work, contrapuntal and spare but one full of delightful invention. After a bleak central Lament, the concerto ends with the astonishing Variations on a Ground with writing of virtuosity and ingenuity which, after a slow and lyrical episode, ends with bang. The Lyric Movement for viola draws from Holst a beautiful melody which this instrument seems to inspire. It is a gem with a haunting atmosphere. The Brook Green Suite, of course, is one of Holst's best known light pieces, full of melody and delight.
The English Chamber Orchestra is conducted by Holst's daughter, Imogen Holst and they give excellent performances. Some of the recordings date back to 1967 but they sound fine to me.
This is another in that excellent series of rarer Holst compositions issued on LP by Lyrita in 1967 and 1970, now transferred to CD. The pieces are played by the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Gustav Holst's daughter Imogen. There are also some excellent soloists - William Bennett (flute), Peter Graeme (oboe), Cecil Aronowith (viola) and Emmanuel Hurwitz and Kenneth Sillito on violins.
The works comprise the early Two Songs Without Words from 1906, the Fugal Concerto for flute, oboe and strings, Ballet Music from The Golden Goose, the Nocturne from the Moorside Suite for brass band that Holst arranged for string orchestra, the Double Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra, the Brook Green Suite for Strings, two works written shortly before Holst's death in 1934 - the Brook Green Suite for the girls of St. Paul's School and a beautiful Lyric Movement for Viola and Small Orchestra - and finally a work resurrected from manuscript and arranged by Imogen Holst, the Capriccio for Orchestra. A lovely selection, beautifully played and recorded.