Five essential works by Holst

We choose the best pieces by the British composing star

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The Planets

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Holst’s spectacular orchestral work starts with the alarming fury of ‘Mars’ and ends with the subtle colours of ‘Neptune’.

Recommended recording:
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
EMI 627 8982

Hymn of Jesus

This setting for double choir and orchestra of a hymn supposedly sung by Christ and his disciples at the Last Supper is both ecstatic and other-worldly.

Recommended recording:
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Adrian Boult
Decca 470 1912

Seven Robert Bridges Part-Songs

Holst wrote several works for his pupils, but few are more hauntingly beautiful than these settings of Robert Bridges poems for sopranos and strings.

Recommended recording:
Holst Singers & Orchestra/Hilary Davan Wetton
Helios CDH 55170

Egdon Heath

After the acclaim of The PlanetsHolst was drawn to composing more austere works. Of those, this is his bleakest.

Recommended recording:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones
Naxos 8.553696

The Wandering Scholar

Holst's sense of humour rarely featured in his music, but surfaces here in this sure-footed chamber opera concerning a young wife’s spring-time rendezvous with a priest.

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Recommended recording:
Norma Burrowes, Michael Langdon, Robert Tear; English Opera Group/Steuart Bedford
EMI 968 9292