ClassicsOnline Home » HOLST, G.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 - First Choral Symphony / The Mystic Trumpeter (A. Davis)
Holst's Orchestral Works, Vol. 3
This disc is the third of a series devoted to the orchestral works of Gustav Holst begun under Richard Hickox. He completed the first volume before his tragically early death in November 2008 forced a hiatus in the project. Chandos was fortunate indeed to have another giant of the British musical establishment, Sir Andrew Davis, available to step into the breach. Sir Andrew has now overseen volumes two and three. Yet this third disc has Hickox's ( no doubt benevolent and approving) ghost much in evidence. It was during a recording session for the principal work, the First Choral Symphony, in Swansea that he was taken ill. He died shortly afterwards.
Now to the music itself. I cannot claim to be a Holstian of any distinction so when I read that the two works on this album, the First Choral Symphony and the Mystic Trumpeter, are not among the composer's finest, I must bow to the views of those with more experience. To my ears, though, they are unmistakable Holst, in their texture and lightness, and well worth their place in any collection of Twentieth Century British music. Let us not forget that when he drafted the First Choral Symphony in 1923, Holst himself described it as the best work he had written to date. Many critics disagreed!
On this recording, the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra are on top form under Sir Andrew Davis's baton and we have the wonderful voice of the solo soprano, Susan Gritton. The recording is, as is nearly always the case with Chandos, superb. I am sure that the MP3 download is exemplary but I am glad that I chose to pay the extra £1 for the FLAC version. The greater depth and range of sound pays real dividends in choral music.
I have one very slight quibble. For some reason, there is twenty second-or so gap before track 1 begins. Hardly a problem though when everything else is so enjoyable!more....
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