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Holst: The Collector's Edition (6 CDs)

$ 25.98 $ 28.58

This adroitly assembled set should sell like a bonfire and fully deserves to.”--MusicWeb International

Renowned above all for the colour and splendour of The Planets, Holst created a uniquely idiosyncratic and outward-looking body of work, informed by his personal enthusiasms; for education, native folksong, the European avant-garde and Indian mysticism. This collection surveys all the musical genres in which he made his mark, from brass band to opera, in performances by some of his most noted champions.

Gustav Holst was born in Cheltenham on 21st September 1874. He learnt the piano from early age but, suffering from asthma and short sight, he found it hard. At the age of seven his mother died. He began to compose at Cheltenham Grammar School with Berlioz’s treatise on instrumentation as his guide and at seventeen he was conducting local village choirs. The neuritis in his right arm had convinced his father that he would never become a solo pianist so he was allowed a few months in Oxford to learn counterpoint before moving to London to study composition with Stanford.

He entered the Royal College of Music in 1893 but did not win a scholarship until two years later – Stanford found him hardworking rather than brilliant. His compositions tended to be saturated with imitations of Wagner. In 1895 he met Vaughan Williams and for the rest of his life they would play sketches of their latest compositions to each other.

He was invited to conduct the Hammersmith Socialist Choir in William Morris’s house where he met his future wife. He became fascinated by Hindu literature and philosophy to such an extent that he decided to learn Sanskrit – his Rig Veda settings are testament to this interest. He had also studied the trombone at college and it was this which brought him employment, with the Carl Rosa Opera and the Scottish Orchestra, if detracting him from his wish to compose.

Luckily he was appointed a teacher first in Dulwich and then at St. Paul’s in Hammersmith where he would be director of music, a position he held for the rest of his life. With security of income he was able to devote himself more to composition and a string of works by which he is best known, chief of which is The Planets, appeared. Their success made publishers want to revisit his earlier works and he found the extra work of correcting proofs time-consuming. His later works were more intense and the public found them harder to understand and it is only now, with a greater chance to listen to them, that we can fathom their genius.

His final years were blighted by illnesses which started after falling from the rostrum and hitting his head, he suffered from headaches and sleeplessness. In 1927 Cheltenham gave him his own festival and in 1930 he accepted the gold medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society. In 1932 he went to Harvard University to lecture but a severe attack of haemorrhagic gastritis caused him to return home and spent the next eighteen months in and out of clinics and, although In frequent pain, he kept on composing. In May 1934 he had an operation in London died on the 25th.

The Planets, Op. 32
London Philharmonic Orchestra & Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Sir Adrian Boult

The Perfect Fool, Op. 39/H 150: Ballet Music
London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn

Egdon Heath, a homage to Thomas Hardy, Op.47
London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn

A Somerset Rhapsody, Op.21 No. 2
Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Norman del Mar

Brook Green Suite
Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Norman del Mar

A Fugal Concerto, H152 Op. 40 No. 2
Jonathan Snowden (flute) & David Theodore (oboe)
English Chamber Orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin

Beni Mora, Op. 29 No. 1
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent

St Paul's Suite, Op. 29 No. 2
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent

Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, Op. 26: 2nd Group, H98
London Symphony Chorus, women’s voices

Ode to Death, H144
London Symphony Chorus & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Groves

Psalm 86
Ian Partridge (tenor) & Ralph Downes (organ)

A Choral Fantasia, H177
Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano) & Ralph Downes (organ)

The Purcell Singers & English Chamber Orchestra, Imogen Holst
Suite No. 1 for Military Band in E flat major, Op. 28 No. 1, H105
Central Band of the Royal Air Force, Imogen Holst

Suite No. 2 for Military Band in F major, Op. 28 No. 2, H106
Central Band of the Royal Air Force, Imogen Holst

A Moorside Suite
BMC (Oxford) Band, Imogen Holst

Hammersmith - Prelude and Scherzo, H178, Op. 52
Central Band of the Royal Air Force, Wing Commander J.L. Wallace
Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, Op. 26: 4th Group, H100: Hymn to Manas
Baccholian Singers of London

The Homecoming, H120 (Hardy)
Baccholian Singers of London

A Dirge for Two Veterans, H121
Baccholian Singers of London & Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Ian Humphris

Choral Folksongs (6), Op. 36b, H136
Baccholian Singers of London

Six Choruses for male voices, H186
Baccholian Singers of London & English Chamber Orchestra, Ian Humphris

Eight Canons, H187: The Fields of Sorrow
Baccholian Singers of London

Eight Canons, H187: David’s Lament for Jonathan
Baccholian Singers of London

Eight Canons, H187: Truth of all Truth
Baccholian Singers of London

Bring us in good ale
The King’s Singers

Vedic Hymns, Op. 24: Varuna
Frederick Harvey (baritone) & Gerald Moore (piano)

Turn back, O man
Richard Seal (organ)
Choir of Chichester Cathedral, John Birch

Lullay my liking, H129, Op. 34 No. 2
Arranged for boys’ voices by Imogen Holst
London Boy Singers, Jonathan Steele

Personent Hodie
Bach Choir & Jacques Orchestra, Sir David Willcocks

In the Bleak Mid-winter (Cranham)
Edwin Bates (organ)
Rodney Christian Fellowship Festival Choir, Rodney Smith Bishton

The Hymn of Jesus, H140
Choristers of St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, London Symphony Chorus & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Groves

Short Festival Te Deum, H145
London Symphony Chorus & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Groves

First Choral Symphony, Op. 41, H155
Felicity Palmer (soprano)
London Philharmonic Choir & London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

The Wandering Scholar, Op. 50
Michael Rippon (Louis), Norma Burrowes (Alison), Michael Langdon (Father Philippe) & Robert Tear (Pierre)
English Opera Group & English Chamber Orchestra, Steuart Bedford

At the Boar’s Head – A musical interlude in one act, Op. 42
Philip Langridge (Prince Hal), John Tomlinson (Falstaff), Elise Ross (Hostess), Felicity Palmer (Doll Tearsheet), David Wilson-Johnson (Pistol), Peter Hall (Peto), Richard Suart (Bardolph) & Michael George (Poins)
Men’s voices of the Liverpool Philharmonic Choir & Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, David Atherton