I have been listening to and enjoying this CD at intervals over the past several months. At some point, being so handily close by, it became my touchstone in the assessment of other choral albums that came my way. Of those that had to stand in comparison, few made the cut. The performances by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Dmitri Ensemble under Graham Ross are simply exemplary.
Imogen Holst (1907-1984) was the sole child of composer Gustav Holst. She was a composer, teacher and performer. The music on this Harmonia Mundi CD spans some 45 years, and includes sacred and secular works for chorus, as well as her orchestration of Benjamin Britten's cantata Rejoice in the Lamb. Her harmonic language clearly modulates over time, but remains tonal, even if it might be hard to hum the tonic in places.
Very little of Ms. Holst's considerable output has ever been recorded; all of the performances here are world premiere recordings. I have to admit that I hesitated a little in posting this on Expedition Audio. It took time to warm to some of the music- the Three Psalms of 1943 for example required a bit more familiarity. Other pieces were immediately and effortlessly enjoyable, in particular the settings of six poems by John Keats, Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow for female chorus and harp, and the wonderful Mass in A minor which opens the program.
There was no hesitation whatsoever in regard to the performances. The engineer for the recording is John Rutter and the sound quality from Harmonia Mundi is all that we have come to expect.
British composer Imogen Holst (1907-1984) was the only child of Gustav Holst. She was brought up in London and educated at the St. Paul's Girls' School, where her father was director of music. She studied composition with George Dyson and Gordon Jacob and harmony and counterpoint with Ralph Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music. In the autumn of 1952, Benjamin Britten invited Holst to come to Aldeburgh to help with his opera Gloriana. She stayed in Aldeburgh for the rest of her life, working as Britten's assistant for twelve years and artistic director for the Aldeburgh Festival from 1956 to 1977. Languishing in the shadow of both her father and Benjamin Britten, Holst's own compositions have not received the recognition they deserve. Graham Ross conducts the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the instrumentalists of The Dmitri Ensemble in these world première recordings of a selection of Holst's choral works ranging from 1927 to 1972, three of which have not been heard since their first performance. Also included is the first recording of her imaginative and skillful orchestration of Benjamin Britten's cantata Rejoice in the Lamb, made at Britten's own request.
Imogen Clare Holst, CBE (12 April 1907 – 9 March 1984) was a British composer and conductor, and sole child of composer Gustav Holst. She worked with Herbert Howells before entering the Royal College of Music (RCM) in 1926 to study composition with George Dyson and Gordon Jacob, harmony and counterpoint with Ralph Vaughan Williams, and conducting with William H. Reed. She won several prizes for composition including the Cobbett Prize for a string quartet (1928).
Edward Benjamin Britten(22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He was a central figure of twentieth-century British classical music, and wrote music in several genres, from film scores to opera. His best known works include Peter Grimes and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
Since the founding of a mixed voice choir in 1971, the Choir of Clare College has gained an international reputation as one of the leading university choral groups in the world. In addition to its primary function of leading services three times a week in the College chapel, the Choir keeps an active schedule recording, broadcasting, and performing throughout the United Kingdom and the world.
The Dmitri Ensemble was formed in 2004. Formed by violinist Laura Holmes, cellist Jess Jennings, and conductor Graham Ross, the group is centred around the initial core of a string ensemble. Alongside performing stalwarts of the repertoire, The Dmitri Ensemble is passionate about presenting both unjustly neglected and newly-penned works.
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