Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gustav Holst - Ballet Music (Richard Hickox)


Information

Composer: Gustav Holst
  1. The Perfect Fool, opera, Op. 39: Andante -
  2. The Perfect Fool, opera, Op. 39: Dance of Spirits of Earth
  3. The Perfect Fool, opera, Op. 39: Dance of Spirits of Water
  4. The Perfect Fool, opera, Op. 39: Dance of Spirits of Fire
  5. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: 'Sound of drum and trumpets play'
  6. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: The Mummers' Play
  7. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: The Human Organ
  8. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: Jack creeps up, unseen by court
  9. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: Dance of the Three Girls
  10. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: The Goose Dance
  11. The Golden Goose, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 1: Jack and Princess embrace
  12. The Lure, ballet music for orchestra
  13. The Morning of the Year, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 2: 'I am that which men did make'
  14. The Morning of the Year, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 2: Dance of Headman and hobby-horse
  15. The Morning of the Year, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 2: Dance of Youths
  16. The Morning of the Year, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 2: Dance of Maidens
  17. The Morning of the Year, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 2: The Mating Dance
  18. The Morning of the Year, choral ballet, Op. 45 No. 2: Dance of the youngest couple

Joyful Company of Singers
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Richard Hickox, conductor

Date: 2008
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%205069

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Review

Richard Hickox's final project - reviving little-known Holst works - is a triumph

Though our modern age continues to extol The Planets as most archetypal of its composer, this recording of music written and completed during the 1920s serves only to reiterate that Holst’s musical purview was much broader, and while he never enjoyed recognition for his ballet music (with the exception perhaps of The Perfect Fool as an orchestral suite), his originality rarely faltered. All the works featured here – a “must” for all Holst fans – reveal how he built steadily on the experimental paradigms of The Planets with an orchestral technique second-to-none, “naked” (as Vaughan Williams once described) in its exposed, gossamer textures.

Holst’s distinctive sound is carefully manicured in this recording; the rapid “mercurial” passages of string- and wind-writing of The Perfect Fool are delivered with exemplary crispness and vitality; the superimposed fourth harmonies of the unfamiliar The Lure, which develop mysterious bitonal “saturnine” textures, look forward to the composer’s unaccompanied choral masterpiece The Evening Watch as well as the desolate landscape of Egdon Heath, while the two choral ballets, The Golden Goose and The Morning of the Year (the former being weaker in quality) ebb and flow between Jovian elation and the more bizarre neo-classicism hinted at in Uranus and the strange modernist textures of the later Choral Fantasia. Hickox certainly brings an electric appeal to these little-known, pointillistic scores as does the more finely tuned sense of ensemble between mystical voices and orchestra.

Perhaps the most compelling item on this disc, however, is The Lure which gives us a “reworking” of The Perfect Fool but with a different climactic outcome derived from the warmer timbres and harmonies of the Ode to Death.

-- Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone

More reviews:

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Gustav Holst (21 September 1874 – 25 May 1934) was an English composer, arranger and teacher. Best known for his orchestral suite The Planets, he composed a large number of other works across a range of genres, although none achieved comparable success. Apart from The Planets and a handful of other works, his music was generally neglected until the 1980s, since when recordings of much of his output have been available. His distinctive compositional style was the product of many influences, including Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, English folk songs and modern composers such as Maurice Ravel.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Holst

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Richard Hickox (5 March 1948 – 23 November 2008) was an English conductor of choral, orchestral and operatic music. He served as Artistic Director of the Northern Sinfonia (1982-1990), Associate Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1985-2008) and Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (2000-2006). His recording repertoire concentrated on British music, in which he made a number of recording premieres for Chandos Records (he made over 280 recordings for this company) and won five Gramophone Awards.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hickox

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    1. booklet
      https://www.chandos.net/chanimages/Booklets/CH5069.pdf

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