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.
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.
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.
In 2009 the venue of the Duisburg Philharmonics, the Philharmonie Mercatorhalle, received a new concert organ in the anglo-late romantic style, modeled after the English Town Hall organs of the time. We now present the first solo album featuring the new instrument, with Roland Maria Stangier at the organ.
Veljo Tormis is—along with Arvo Pärt—Estonia’s most famous living composer, holding an almost mystic status in his home country. He is also the passionate and practical torch-bearer for folk-singing revival, and the integration of an ancient cultural inheritance into thoroughly modern, post-Soviet lives. Interestingly, he trained at the Moscow conservatoire and was steeped in Soviet instruction during his early musical life. His music is almost all written for choirs; few composers have ever been so committed to one genre. Tormis’s choral specialism marks him out from Bartók, Kodály, Vaughan Williams and Grainger, whose pioneering interest in folksong was ultimately less purist given their use of the tunes alone in instrumental or orchestral works: for Tormis, the words and the music are inseparable.
Gustav Holst's "The Planets" is a brilliant portrayal of the other celestial bodies outside of Earth (except for Pluto because it wasn't discovered back when Holst composed this). Mars is violent and in a military march form. Parts of it have the brassy dominating sound resembling that of Darth Vader's theme. Venus sounds like something out of a black-and-white romantic movie, high lush strings, celesta, french horn and all, a personal favorite. Mercury is a very playful sounding piece, strong emphasis on the woodwinds and strings. Jupiter is definately my favorite…
This latest recording by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Paavo Järvi features two of the best known orchestral works to come out of England in the twentieth century, Gustav Holst's popular suite for orchestra, “The Planets” and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten.
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