Holst Cotswolds Symphony; Walt Whitman Overture; Indra; Japanese Suite; A Winter Idyll
There are in fact two premiere complete recordings on this disc, although this is not clear in Naxos’s accompanying booklet. Both A Winter Idyll and Indra have previously appeared in punchy dramatic accounts by David Atherton conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. But where he used scores edited by Colin Matthews, JoAnn Falletta on Naxos conducts from original manuscripts, including for the first time several bars cut by Matthews.
Holst fans will want to buy this disc for that reason alone. It should be said, though, that the restored music in A Winter Idyll is mostly sequential padding and evidence of Holst’s debt to Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture; besides, Falletta’s performance sounds dutiful compared to Atherton’s zestful account. Indra is another matter, proving in its original form just as atmospheric and exciting as Atherton’s recording had suggested. Composed early in 1903 while Holst was on his honeymoon in Germany, the work exudes confidence and orchestral mastery. It deserves to be regularly performed.
There are three remaining rarities on this disc. The Walt Whitman Overture is indebted to Brahms’s Second Symphony. The Cotswolds Symphony includes a powerful, Wagnerian ‘Elegy: In Memoriam William Morris’, framed by a rather flimsy first movement, a jolly Scherzo and a banal Finale. Third, the Japanese Suite, is a much-underestimated mature work composed concurrently with The Planets. This is its third recording, though Adrian Boult’s highly atmospheric account with the LSO remains top choice with its thrilling ‘Dance of the Wolves’ finale.