The Society has made good progress promoting recordings of music, either hitherto unrecorded, or, where previously recorded, the CD is either no longer available or the LP has never been transcribed onto CD.
To date, we have supported and promoted four recordings. Another five are either in hand or proposed. The following is a summary:-
Project 1 - Alpha and Omega - Holst's Christmas music
The Godwine Choir, under their conductor Alex Davan Wetton, has recorded all of Holst's Christmas music. This was released in the autumn of 2020, under the EM label.
The CD includes In the Bleak Midwinter (H73, 1904), Four Old English Carols (H82, 1907), Two Carols (H91, 1907/1916), Christmas Day (H109, 1910), Lullay My Liking (H129, 1916), Three Carols (H133, 1916/17), Of One That Is So Fair (H130, 1916), This Have I Done (H128, 1916), Bring us in Good Ale (H131, 1916), A Dream of Christmas (H139, 1917), Wassail Song (H182, 1928-31).
This is the first time in the history of recorded music that all 17 of Holst's carols have been recorded on one CD. Some of these carols are being recorded for the first time.
We have also recorded all Holst's organ music, together with the transcription for two organists of Holst's Scherzo for Orchestra (H192), which was to have formed part of his second orchestral symphony. This was never completed at the time of his death.
The four early voluntaries are included, namely:-
- March in C Major (1890/91)
- Allegretto Pastorale (1890/91)
- Postlude in C (1890/91)
- Funeral March in G Minor (1890/91)
The Scherzo (H192) dates from 1933.
The Society funded this recording.
'Spirited', the Gazette of the English Music Festival
Alpha and Omega is issued under the EM record label and can be obtained through EM Records, PO Box 123, Clunton, Craven Arms SY7 7BP, email: email@example.com, or visit https://www.em-records.com/catalogue.html.
Project 2 - Dream Tryst - Choral works by Holst and Dyson
This is a recording by the Godwine Choir of lesser-known music by George Dyson and Gustav Holst. The programme of music by Holst includes the Five Part-songs (H61), four of the 12 Welsh Folk Songs (H183) and the premier recording of Love is Enough dating from 1897.
Dream Tryst is issued under the EM record label and can be obtained through EM Records, PO Box 123, Clunton, Craven Arms SY7 7BP, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://www.em-records.com/catalogue.html. EMRCD049.
The Society provided sponsorship towards this recording, together with generous support from three of our members.
Project 3 - Time and Space
Songs for voice and piano by Holst and Vaughan Williams
This is a joint project with the Vaughan Williams Society, under the Albion label. Two CDs were issued during October 2019 and included music for voice and piano by Vaughan Williams and Holst, together with music by Holst for voice and violin. For those interested in the music to be recorded by Vaughan Williams, please visit the website of the Vaughan Williams Society at https://rvwsociety.com/.
The songs by Holst and Vaughan Williams were recorded at Potten Hall, Suffolk, from 28 November to 1 December 2018.
The soloists were Mary Bevan, soprano, Roderick Williams, baritone, and Jack Liebeck, violin. William Vann accompanied at the piano.
The works by Holst include Six Songs (H68, 1902/03), Cradle Song (from Six Songs H69, 1903/04), Four Songs (H14, 1896-98), Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties and Hampshire - The Willow Tree (H83/6, 1906-08), Abroad as I was Walking (H83/1, 1906/08), Four Songs for Voice and Violin (H132, 1916-17), Darest Thou Now O Soul (H72, 1904/05).
This is a unique recording, in that no less than ten of these songs are world premieres. The recording is on the Albion label ALBCD038 and can be obtained from Albion Records at https://rvwsociety.com/time-and-space/
The Society is greatly indebted to the Vaughan Williams Society for arranging these recordings, which will fill a gap in the works of Holst previously unrecorded.
Project 4 - Choral works by Gustav Holst
This is a recording of Holst’s partsongs by the Caritas Chamber Choir under their conductor Benedict Preece. Fifteen partsongs for SATB are included. The recording took place in January 2020. This is a significant recording as it includes nine partsongs which have not previously been recorded, namely H15 There’s a voice, H48/2 To Sylvia, H48/3 Autumn Song, H48/4 Come Away Death, H48/5 A Love Song, H57 I Love Thee, H58 Thou Didst Delight, H59 It was a Lover and H78 Now Rest Thee. The recording appeared in April 2020 on the Caritas Chamber Choir’s own label and is available directly from the Caritas Chamber Choir. Enquiries should be addressed to Allison Buhagiar, email@example.com.
The Society provided funding for this project.
This will include all Holst's sacred music, together with some of his hymns.
The sacred music will include the anthem Not Unto Us (H22, 1893), Ave Maria (H49, 1900), Two Psalms (H117, 1912), Nunc Dimittis (H127, 1915), Short Festival Te Deum (H145, 1919), Christ Hath a Garden (H167, 1927), Man Born to Toil (H168, 1927), Eternal Father (H169, 1927). Of those nine works, three (Not Unto Us/ Christ Hath a Garden/ Eternal Father) have not previously been recorded.
Holst composed at least a dozen hymns, most of which have now long-since been forgotten. However, some are worthy of being recorded. We will include H148 I Vow to Thee My Country (1921), together with Sheen (1905), Brook End (1925), Chilswell (1927) and Essex (date unknown).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the recording has been delayed. We hope to be recording in July 2021. The recording to be made by the Royal Hospital Chelsea Choir under their conductor Will Vann, will be on the SOMM label.
This is a joint project with St Paul's Girls' School, where Holst was director of music for nearly 30 years. The recording will include the Masque: Vision of Dame Christian (H101, 1909), The Playground Song (H118A, date unknown, probably before 1914), The St Paul's Suite (H118, 1912/13), The Brook Green Suite (H190, 1933) and the Seven Choruses from the Alcestes of Euripides (H146, 1920).The recording will also feature a movement from The Brook Green Suite (Gavotte) which Holst dropped after the first performance.
Although the Masque has previously been recorded, this is no longer available and has never been transferred to CD. The Brook Green and St Paul's Suites have previously been recorded. The other works have never been recorded.
All six works were composed by Holst for St Paul's Girls' School. We hope that the recording will be made later in 2021, subject to the lifting of Covid restrictions.
Lansdown Castle was an early comic opera by Holst which was revived by musicians from Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham on 19 and 21 September 2019. The previous performance took place in 1893. It was composed by Holst when he was just 18. Although this is a very early work (some would dismiss it as mere juvenilia), there are signs of the future Holst even this early in his career. There is an offstage chorus with parallel fifths that foreshadow The Planets. Holst displays a ready wit and humour most of the time, but it is the contrast of that against the more sinister moments that really make the piece.
This is a fairly long-term project for the Holst Society, but progress will be made during 2021/22. The recording will take place in Cheltenham.
This is a planned recording to feature all Holst’s music for brass band to appear in 2024, which will be the 150th anniversary of the birth of Holst – Holst 150. The recording is presently being planned by Paul Hindmarsh, the artistic director of the Royal Northern College of Music Brass Band Festival, and Chris Cope. Paul has been involved in the brass band movement for all of his professional career. The band selected will be the Cory Band. The Society is delighted that its President, Martyn Brabbins, has agreed to conduct the band in this recording, together with Philip Harper the Cory Band's principal conductor. We are planning to record all the music during the summer of 2023. This will be a major project for the Holst Society, in that we will be incurring substantial costs. Any donations would be gratefully received.
Project 9 - Clear and Cool
This is a proposed recording with the BBC National Chorus of Wales under their conductor Adrian Partington. It is planned that the recording which will take place in or about 2022 and will feature the BBC National Welsh Orchestra.
At this stage, the music to be recorded is subject to approval by Adrian (and to some extent the BBC). What is lined up is as follows:-
· Twelve Welsh Songs H183 (to be recorded for the first time in Welsh). Number 6 will be recorded for the first time.
· Clear and Cool H30 dating from 1897. World premiere.
· Three out of the Seven Folk Songs H85. Only numbers 2, 5 and 6 survive. World premiere.
· Song of London H102A. World premiere.
· O England My Country H103. World premiere.
· In Loyal Bonds H113. World premiere.
· Roadways H181. World premiere.
The above four songs are for unison voices.
· The Passing of the Essenes H180, chant for men’s voices in unison. World premiere.
· Hymn to Dionysis H116. It would appear that there has been no recording since 1985.
· Sing me the Men H160
· Hecuba’s Lament H115 – a work for contralto solo, chorus SSA plus orchestra. World premiere.
Clear and Cool (Song of the River) dates from 1897. The first performance took place on 26th March of that year. It was not until 122 years later that the second performance was given. This was at the Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham and given by the Charlton Kings Choral Society on 23rd November 2019 under their conductor John Wright who had engraved and edited the score from the original manuscript held at the British Library.
Project 10 - Cecil Coles and Gustav Holst - Piano music
Complete piano music of Cecil Coles (1888-1918) and works for piano by Holst.
Coles, a Scot, won a composition scholarship – the Cherubini Prize – which took him to London. There, in 1907, he visited Morley College and met Holst. They became close friends. In the summer of 1911, they met in Switzerland and embarked on a hiking tour of the Alps. Holst wrote that this was ‘the biggest rest I have had in my life.’ Holst at 37 struggled at times to keep up with his 23-year-old companion on the high mountain trails. Coles, having married, returned to London in 1913 after five years in Germany where he had been organist at a church in Stuttgart and assistant conductor of the opera house. Coles served in World War I and died of injuries on 28th April 1918 at the age of 30. Holst dedicated his Ode to Death (1919) to Coles ‘and the fallen’.
The piano works of Holst on this disc are:-
O! I hae seen the roses blow H166/1
The Shoemakker H166/2
Chrissemas Day H165
Egdon Heath H172
(arranged Iain Farrington)
The arrangement of Egdon Heath is a world premier recording.
Review from The Scotsman
Coles | Holst: Piano Music (Delphian) ****
The story of Cecil Coles is fascinating and poignant. Raised and educated in Edinburgh, he showed great promise when he transferred to London as a student, meeting and befriending Gustav Holst, whose influence helped secure Coles a position of great promise. Tragically, he died in action as a stretcher bearer in the final months of the First World War. His music only came to light again over the past 20 years, most of which reveals a skilful if largely conservative Romantically-focused craftsmanship. James Willshire’s new solo piano album places Coles’ music in direct relationship with Holst’s. From Coles we hear not only delightful and sometimes skittish character pieces, but the Lisztian theatricality of the Sonata in C minor. They are inevitably overshadowed by the more pronounced inner warmth of Holst, not least in Willshire’s probing performance of the substantial Thomas Hardy homage, Egdon Heath. That said, an enriching coupling. Ken Walton
James Willshire is known for his virtuosity as a pianist, heralded for performances of ‘spectacular musicianship’. Delphian label DCD 34209.
1. Ornulf’s Drapa H34
This is a short work for baritone and orchestra. The words are from Ibsen’s ‘Vikings at Helgeland’. The date of composition is 1898. The work is to be recorded for the first time and will be on the EM label. The music in original manuscript was obtained by Em Marshall-Luck from the British Library. It has been engraved and edited by Bruno Bower. The Society has made a substantial grant which meets the cost of the engraving and editing. The other proposed works are O’Neill’s La Belle Dame, A Suite by Delius, Cyril Scott’s Fair Helen of Kirconell, Havergal Brian’s Legend and possibly some Quilter or Balfour Gardiner. It is likely that these works will be recorded sometime in 2021/22.
2. British Song from 1912
The tenor James Gilchrist and the pianist Nathan Williamson are in the process of producing a three-CD boxset of British 20th century and contemporary song. Composers to be included will be Ivor Gurney, Rebecca Clarke, Frank Bridge, Doreen Carwithen, Alan Bush, Alan Rawthorne, William Alwyn, Peter Dickinson, Geoffrey Poole, John Woolrich, Nathan Williamson and Madeleine Dring. The first recording (now issued) includes seven songs by Holst, namely five of the Twelve Humbert Woolf Songs from 1929, together with the Vigil of Pentecost (H123) and The Ballad of Hunting Knowe (H147), both of which are world premiere recordings. Other composers on this disc are Clarke, Gurney and Bridge. (SOMM label 0621).
'Spirited', the Gazette of the English Music Festival
The Society has made a substantial grant towards the first recording.
3. Holst Songs
In due course, the Society hopes that James Gilchrist and Roddy Williams, who have both expressed a keen interest in Holst’s songs for voice and piano, will be recording some of the 50 or so Holst songs, not previously recorded.
This will be on the Convivium label.
There are numerous recordings of works by Holst. Those visiting this website should consult online retailers.
The Society would always be interested in hearing ideas about future recordings. If you are proposing a recording yourself or through your choral society/orchestra, we would be most interested in learning about this. Please send such information to us via the form on the contact page.