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April 28, 2019

Freya Parr Five essential works by Holst


The Planets

Holst’s spectacular orchestral work starts with the alarming fury of ‘Mars’ and ends with the subtle colours of ‘Neptune’.

Recommended recording:
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
EMI 627 8982




Hymn of Jesus

This setting for double choir and orchestra of a hymn supposedly sung by Christ and his disciples at the Last Supper is both ecstatic and other-worldly.

Recommended recording:
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Adrian Boult
Decca 470 1912




Seven Robert Bridges Part-Songs

Holst wrote several works for his pupils, but few are more hauntingly beautiful than these settings of Robert Bridges poems for sopranos and strings.

Recommended recording:
Holst Singers & Orchestra/Hilary Davan Wetton
Helios CDH 55170




Egdon Heath

After the acclaim of The PlanetsHolst was drawn to composing more austere works. Of those, this is his bleakest.

Recommended recording:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones
Naxos 8.553696




The Wandering Scholar

Holst's sense of humour rarely featured in his music, but surfaces here in this sure-footed chamber opera concerning a young wife’s spring-time rendezvous with a priest.

Recommended recording:
Norma Burrowes, Michael Langdon, Robert Tear; English Opera Group/Steuart Bedford
EMI 968 9292



Jimmy Witherspoon

A classic blues-shouter, Jimmy Witherspoon (1921-97), began with Kansas City swing, crossed over to rhythm and blues, but truly came into his own with such jazz giants as Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster. Geoffrey Smith salutes a blues master at once earthy and modern.

from Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz

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