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Thread: Gustav Holst

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Default Gustav Holst

    Holst is quickly becoming one of my favorite composers. Like everyone, I first came to know his music by hearing his masterpiece The Planets. This whet my appetite, and I've explored this composer further.

    In a way, The Planets, his most famous work by a mile, is rather atypical for this composer's sound world. He is generally a very "English" composer, sounding a lot like Ralph Vaugn William's long lost brother at times, but with more bite.

    I've come to also adore his austere tone poem, Egdon Heath, which reminds me of a sort of English Sibelius.

    Does anyone else admire this composer, for The Planets or anything else?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I've been listening to his Moorside Suite at work, a most pleasant composition. I'm confused about it though. When I look it up in the Allmusic guide it is for brass band. But the version I have is on a Naxos album of English music for string orchestra:
    http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item...._code=8.555070 (a great series by the way).

    According to the liner notes, he reset it for string orchestra. Having heard this, I'm having trouble imagining it for brass -- unless maybe it makes heavy use of that wonderful soft horn sound as in the opening of Venus. There is a galluping hunt motif in the first movement that could be for brass, but it's stuck in my mind as strings now.

    Any way as you say, it is very English and Vaughan-Williams like. I would love to have more like this in my collection.

    [Edit: Actually my catalog says I Have Egdon Heath too, and several other of his works on another Naxos album, but I don't remember them. How embarrassing! I'll have to hunt the CD up and spend some time with it.]
    Last edited by Weston; Nov-09-2008 at 11:16.

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    Senior Member marval's Avatar
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    I like Holst, I think his music has a unique quality. The Planets have to be the one I know best. It is time I delved a little further into his other works.


    Margaret

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    I think Holst is one of the most important British composers, and I feel that despite the popular success of The Planets, his music is somewhat neglected.

    If you don't know it, try listening to his one-act chamber opera, Savitri. A masterpiece.

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    Senior Member marval's Avatar
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    Savitri is one I don't know, I must check it out. Thank you Lang for that.


    Margaret

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    Senior Member Kuhlau's Avatar
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    Anyone who wants to begin exploring the Holst who lies far beyond The Planets should immediately order (or download) this CD:




    The Invocation for Cello and Orchestra is a neglected masterpiece, IMO, and devastatingly bittersweet, too. While Beni Mora is musical invention par excellence. I shall say no more than this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marval View Post
    Savitri is one I don't know, I must check it out. Thank you Lang for that.


    Margaret
    There is a version with Janet Baker singing the part of Savitri - well worth getting if you can dig it up.

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    Senior Member marval's Avatar
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    Thank you Lang, I will see if I can dig it up.

    Thank you also Kuhlau for your suggestion, another one to get.


    Margaret

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    Don't forget First Suite in E flat and Second Suite in F. Pretty fun stuff.



    (I now may have awakened all of the current or former wind band members.)

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I have the CD in question, and it is spectacular.

    Everything on the disc is great. Beni Mora might be the most easily accessible piece; it a little bit of orchestral orientalism out of the book of Rimsky-Korsakov or Ippolitov-Ivanov. The Invocation and Egdon Heath are a different matter, however. Great pieces of music, very English, which remind me of Sibelius.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Kuhlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Beni Mora might be the most easily accessible piece; it a little bit of orchestral orientalism out of the book of Rimsky-Korsakov or Ippolitov-Ivanov. The Invocation and Egdon Heath are a different matter, however.
    I'd have argued it the other way around: Beni Mora strikes me as among the least accessible - yet most rewarding - works on the disc, whereas the Invocation for Cello and Orchestra seems to me to be very easy to find a way into.

    FK
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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Beni Mori is cut from that "Rimsky-Korsakov" cloth in that is has good, exotic tunes with colorful orchestration. It has all of the qualities that make works like Sheherezade a concert staple.

    Edgon Heath and Invocation are a little bit more cerebral, and require more concentration than the "fun" Beni Mori, in my opinion. Both has a certain austerity that contrast them from Beni Mora's out-going nature.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Kuhlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Beni Mori is cut from that "Rimsky-Korsakov" cloth in that is has good, exotic tunes with colorful orchestration. It has all of the qualities that make works like Sheherezade a concert staple.

    Edgon Heath and Invocation are a little bit more cerebral, and require more concentration than the "fun" Beni Mori, in my opinion. Both has a certain austerity that contrast them from Beni Mora's out-going nature.
    Well, I certainly can't argue with your general assessments of these fine works. Although I really don't hear Beni Mora as 'fun' at all.

    As for the other two more, in your words, 'cerebral' works, does the ease with which I respond to at least one of these mean I now qualify as intellectual?

    FK
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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Let's not let our head's get too big, my dear Kuhlau!

    I do see Beni Mora as "fun," as I see The Planets. Perhaps Beni Mora is the closest work to The Planets in Holst's catalog of compositions. It has all the potential to be a real concert "blockbuster," but on a less grand scale than The Planets.

    Invocation and Egdon are not "blockbuster" pieces; this is not to dimish their merits. They just don't have Beni Mora's glitz and occasional bomabst, which would (wrongly) narrow their appeal to the general public.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    the band suites are great fun!

    dj

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