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Double Concerto St Paul's Sui

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Product Details

  • Performer: English Sinfonia, Soloists Griffiths
  • Composer: Holst Gustav
  • Audio CD (April 24 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,520 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

The English composer Gustav Holst served for many years as director of music at St Paul' Girls' School in London, and it was for the pupils there that he wrote his St Paul' Suite, his most famous work for amateurs and, shortly after, his Brook Green S

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9e344060) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e35cb10) out of 5 stars Extraplanetary Holst July 6 2007
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Gustav Holst (1874-1934)is best known, outside England anyway, for his sensationally popular orchestral suite 'The Planets.' Few casual music-lovers know any of his other works and certainly there is nothing else that resembles 'The Planets' in his oeuvre. But he wrote a good deal of music that is neatly made and ultra-English in character. He studied English folksong assiduously, as did his great friend Ralph Vaughan Williams, and much of his music quotes folksong or contains folksong-like melodies that Holst himself invented. That is very much the case in much of the music presented on this CD.

The 'Brook Green Green Suite' (1933) was among the last things he wrote and indeed he wrote most of it while in the hospital. It is primarily for strings although there are optional parts for flute, oboe and clarinet, omitted in this performance. The suite consists of three movements -- Prelude, Air, and Dance -- that frolic and glimmer in the characteristic bright English morning light. The last movement is a siciliano that nonetheless sounds English, not Italian.

'A Song of the Night for Violin and Orchestra' (1905) wasn't published until half a century after Holst's death. This eight-minute piece opens with a mournful violin cadenza that, after a virtuosic middle section, returns in etiolated form at the end. The fine soloist here is Janice Graham who is also the new artistic director of the English Sinfonia, featured on this album. 'Lyric Movement for Viola and Chamber Orchestra', also written in Holst's last year, was dedicated to that era's leading violist, Lionel Tertis. It, too, opens with a yearning cadenza this time answered by a solo flute. Much of the work is hushed, with muted orchestral strings. The plangent viola solo is played by Andriy Viytovych.

The best-known piece on this CD is Holst's 'St Paul's Suite' (1913), written for the orchestra of St. Paul's School for Girls where Holst taught for many years. The four-movement suite for strings -- Jig, Ostinato, Intermezzo and Finale -- is popular with amateur groups. Particularly catchy is the Finale which uses an obsessively recurring figure (taken from the folksong 'Dargason') which is then combined contrapuntally with 'Greensleeves.' The suite is played with jolly abandon by the excellent English Sinfonia strings under Howard Griffiths.

'A Fugal Concerto for Flute, Oboe and Strings' (1923) is a sprightly contrapuntal three movement work lasting eight minutes. It is quintessentially English in spirit, with a dancing first movement, songful Adagio and a concluding allegro with many off-kilter accents. The excellent soloists are flutist Anna Pyne and oboist Philip Harmer. 'Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra' (1929) with Janice Graham and Sarah Ewins, violins, opens more dramatically than anything previous on the CD, with portentous bassoons, cello, bass, clarinets and violas with interruptions by the timpani. After the two violin soloists enter the mood softens and we eavesdrop on a bitonal conversation between them. The 'Lament', in 5/4, again features bitonal lines for the two soloists, against muted strings. 'Variation on a Ground' is based on a oddly metered tune that pits the individual rhythms of the soloists against each other. This work has quintessential English melodies and harmonies but is more urban than pastoral. Sound throughout is clear and lifelike.

Recommended for those who want to increase their familiarity with the music of Gustav Holst.

Scott Morrison
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e35cb64) out of 5 stars Holst didn't just write the Planets Aug. 20 2010
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD offers the listener some of the undervalued gems of the English composer Gustav Holst. While his name is nearly synonymous with the Planets these days, he wrote quite a bit of other music that is well worth hearing. Incidentally, the music that is on this CD follows the example of his contemporaries Vaughan Williams and Delius. In other words, it's pastoral, folksy, and strongly English. When listening to this CD, you will find yourself roaming through the country hills, fields, and woods of England, a marked difference from the Planets with all of its outer space emphasis.

While all the music on this CD offers enjoyable listening, it is the St. Paul's Suite that is most likely to strongly appeal to the listener. It has gained considerable repute, much more so than the other pieces on this CD. Each of its four movements is a treasure of its own, although the first movement, a Jig, has the strongest effect. Also gaining familiarity with concertgoers is the Brook Green Suite, which is quite similar to St. Paul's Suite, only much shorter. But who has heard the delightful little Fugal Concerto? Written on the voyage to a music festival in Michigan, this concerto is just bursting with vitality, fun, and excitement. Also on this disc is the Double Concerto, Song of the Night, and the Lyric Movement for Viola.

All of these pieces are given stunning performances with Howard Griffiths and the English Sinfonia. They capture the vibrancy in these pieces in well-thought, wonderful way. (Griffiths has also recorded two stunning discs of the music of Gerald Finzi that are simply indispensable.) Go ahead and buy this CD. It will give you hours of listening pleasure.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e35cf9c) out of 5 stars Lyrical delights March 22 2010
By Timothy A. Berg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is a lot more to Holst than "The Planets". Wonderful string writing that soothes the ear without being overly sentimental. I bought this for a daughter-in-law who plays that thankless instrument the viola when I heard the "Lyric Movement for Viola and Chamber Orchestra". Hauntingly beautiful.
HASH(0x9e35cf84) out of 5 stars wonderful music, superb recording. May 18 2014
By Steven W. George - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Wow, musicians in the room or you transported to the venue? Haven't worried about that, but I can't stop listening to this CD. Deleted several tracks to get it onto my iPhone drive, as it's well implanted into my mountain biking soundtrack.
HASH(0x9e35d360) out of 5 stars St. Paul's Suite played too fast. Aug. 4 2015
By Packrat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought the CD for St Paul's Suite.
It was played too fast, shaving close to a minute off other versions.
It was disappointing to me.