Holst: Savitri; The Dream-City

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: Savitri; The Dream-City
PERFORMER: Felicity Palmer, Philip Langridge, Stephen Varcoe, Patrizia Kwella; Richard Hickox Singers, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55042 Reissue (1983)
There was at least one 20th-century British operatic masterpiece before Peter Grimes: Holst’s Savitri, composed in 1908 but not performed until 1921. Perhaps it was ahead of its time; even now this half-hour-long three-hander with chamber orchestra accompaniment does not seem to ‘fit’ operatic preconceptions. The story comes from the Mahabharata, and concerns a tug-of-love between Savitri, her husband Satyavan and Death. Philip Langridge is eloquent as Satyavan, but sometimes Felicity Palmer’s Savitri could do with less hardness of tone and Stephen Varcoe’s Death a little more. With a coupling of ten of the composer’s Humbert Wolfe songs (arranged by Colin Matthews and sung by Patrizia Kwella) and playing under Richard Hickox that captures the many shades of Holst, this is an attractive disc. John Allison