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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gustav Holst - Orchestral Works (Nicholas Braithwaite)


Composer: Gustav Holst
  • (01) Walt Whitman Overture, Op. 7
  • (02-05) Suite de Ballet in E flat major, Op. 10
  • (06-08) Suite in E flat major, Op. 28 No. 1
  • (09-12) A Hampshire Suite, Op. 28 No. 2
  • (13-15) A Moorside Suite

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor
Date: 1985 (2-5), 2007
Label: Lyrita



Braithwaite’s engaging Holst proves well worth the wait

Nicholas Braithwaite’s effervescent 1980 account of the winsome Suite de ballet sounded stunning on black disc and continues to do so on silver (Decca’s peerless Kenneth Wilkinson was the balance engineer; the sumptuous acoustic is that of Kingsway Hall). All else is new to the catalogue. The three suites were set down in Watford Town Hall during summer 1993, while the Walt Whitman Overture was taped in the same venue in January 1988. The mind boggles at how performances and recordings of such superior quality can have remained mothballed for so long.

Holst composed the Overture and Suite de ballet during 1899 while on tour as repetiteur and trombonist with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. In neither will you glimpse any vestige of the mature composer (the overture doffs its hat to Brahms) but both parade a host of felicities and are given with palpable dedication here. Gordon Jacob made these skilful and sympathetic orchestrations of Holst’s two military-band suites in 1940 and 1945 (with No 2 renamed the Hampshire Suite – the majority of the folksongs it quotes hail from that county). Under Boult, No 1’s March bowls along with the greater unbuttoned panache, but there’s not much in it.

Commissioned as a test piece for the 1928 National Brass Band Festival, A Moorside Suite has long been a personal favourite (don’t deprive yourself of hearing the Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s unforgettable 1977 Decca recording, 3/86 – nla). Jacob’s affectionate reworking followed in 1952, and Braithwaite and the LPO relish its many deft touches. (On two copies I’ve tried there’s a tiny electronic-sounding blip at 3'04" in the haunting central Nocturne.) Attractively presented (the lucid and detailed booklet-essay is, curiously, uncredited), this release makes consistently enjoyable listening.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:


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.


Nicholas Braithwaite (born 26 August 1939, London) is an English conductor. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, at the Festival masterclasses in Bayreuth, and with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna. He is probably best known to audiences for leading performances of more than 70 operas at various world venues. Although only held the post in minor orchestras, he has made recordings with world-renowned such as the London Philharmonic, London Symphony and the Philharmonia.


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  2. Muchas gracias por toda esta rara y excelente música.

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