Holst: Vedic Hymns, Op. 24; 12 Humbert Wolfe settings, Op. 48; Six Songs, Op. 16; Four Songs for Voice and Violin, Op. 35

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Holst
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Vedic Hymns, Op. 24; 12 Humbert Wolfe settings, Op. 48; Six Songs, Op. 16; Four Songs for Voice and Violin, Op. 35
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Philip Langridge (tenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Louisa Fuller (violin), Steuart Bedford (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 15322
The seventh volume in Collins’s valuable ‘English Song Series’ reveals a Holst unknown to most listeners, a composer of songs of great freshness and individuality, and, at their finest, of compelling vision. They are presented sympathetically by a team of singers who have in common a strong sense of line and (with the help of the well judged recording) clear, unforced diction. Susan Gritton is sweet and tender in the spare, haunting settings of medieval poems for voice and violin, and in a set of early songs, mostly conventional but with some striking touches. Christopher Maltman gives an ardent reading of the nine Vedic Hymns, to Holst’s own translations from the Sanskrit – though he should learn that the vibrato which can project a voice to the back of a large hall does not always fall so gratefully on a close microphone. In this he is given an object lesson by Philip Langridge, who uses his half-voice to great effect in the late Humbert Wolfe settings, encompassing equally the wittily elusive ‘The Floral Bandit’ and the static, other-worldly ‘Betelgeuse’. Steuart Bedford is occasionally a little too forward in these songs, but is generally an admirable partner. Overall, an important issue, highly recommended. Anthony Burton

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