Some composers really deserve their reputation as artists whose fame rests on a single work, but with Holst the popularity of The Planets really has obscured the large quantity of good music he wrote in other forms. Part of the problem also stemmed from his daughter, Imogene, who was severely critical of her father's work and whose baleful influence persists to this day. These three choral ballets contain a large measure of delightful and wholly characteristic music. It's crime that we have had to wait until now for a complete recording of them, and fortunately these performances make a strong case for many more.
EMI Classics presents a magnificent collection that celebrates the life and career of English composer Gustav Holst. Containing an outside selection of Holst s greatest works including his most famous orchestral suite The Planets, the rare The Perfect Fool, as well as the Walt Whitman inspired Ode to Death. This 6-CD collector s edition provides a chance for all classical music aficionados to listen and experience his timeless compositions
The Planets, composed between 1914 and 1916, is a suite of seven movements. Holst's starting point for the music was the astrological character of each planet, though his interest in astrology went no deeper than its musical suggestiveness…
Most of this disc is for fans of Holst only – after all, how many almost unaccompanied part songs can any human being stand? – but on at least one song, this disc is for every spiritual human being on the planet. O Spiritual Pilgrim, Holst's setting of six lines from the "Fourth Song of The Gates of Damascus," was one of his last works and its purity is as sublime as its text. While anyone but a Holst fan will lose interest in this disc before the Choral Folk Songs (6) at its end – after all, how many superbly sung and lovingly performed part songs can any human being stand? – anyone with an immortal soul should hear O Spiritual Pilgrim.
Ever been curious to hear a musical setting of Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn"? Well here's your chance. It's the second movement of Holst's First Choral Symphony (although he called it "First," there was never a second). You know the poem: "Beauty is truth and truth, beauty…." This is a highly enjoyable piece, and in sections of the first and third movement, the composer of The Planets makes some sounds that recall his most popular work. But there's much more to Holst than space music. He was a master at writing for chorus, his word setting always highly colorful and never stiff or "Victorian" sounding. This performance is the best available, so if you're intrigued, go for it.