WORKS: Seven Partsongs, Op. 44; A Choral Fantasia; A Dirge for Two Veterans; Ode to Death
PERFORMER: Patricia Rozario (soprano) Symphony Chorus, Joyful Company of Singers, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9437 DDD
King Estmere was conceived on a belated honeymoon in 1903. Holst’s music is heroic and Romantic and the Guildford Choir and the Philharmonia respond to its chivalry with great enthusiasm. Imogen Holst edited the other two choral ballets for orchestra only (both available on Lyrita; The Golden Goose conducted by Imogen herself). Her exhilarating, rhythmic vivacity really made her father’s music dance. Davan Wetton’s view is more symphonic: his chorus is slightly short on both joy and wit for this frothy fantasy of a princess whose hand can only be won when she laughs. The Morning of the Year is more successful. This is a radiant celebration of the arrival of spring and love.
For the Seven Partsongs, on the Chandos CD, the more ethereal tones of Isobel Collyer, on Davan Wetton’s first-rate Hyperion recording, suit Robert Bridges’s mystical, supernatural texts better than the fuller, more earthbound yet lovely voice of Patricia Rozario. But Hickox’s view of the Choral Fantasia, based on Bridges’s Ode to Music, is powerful indeed. So too are the two Walt Whitman settings, especially the Ode to Death which is deeply moving – serene spirits wandering among the stars! Ian Lace