An inspired arrangement between Decca and Imogen Holst, led to a series of pioneering recordings of her father Gustave Holst’s music, which appeared on Argo and are now comprehensively released on CD as part of the Eloquence series. This collection opens with the Pears/Britten recording of a substantial English song cycle never before published on CD, the twelve Humbert Wolfe settings, beautifully sung and mercurially played. Wolfe, largely forgotten today, ‘was a civil servant, essentially a Londoner, and a miniaturist with an individual brand of whimsy and, at his best, a real feeling for words’ (Gramophone). Imogen Holst’s original notes for the LPs – ‘acutely perceptive, objective and candid’ noted Gramophone’s reviewer Lionel Salter – are here reprinted as are the full texts. Much of the music was practically unknown at the time of this recording (beautifully captured by legendary Decca engineer Kenneth Wilkinson in London’s Kingsway Hall) and well overdue for publication. The collection is rounded off by Boult’s celebrated 1961 recording of The Hymn of Jesus.
Recording producers: David Harvey (Humbert Wolfe Songs, Ave Maria, Three Welsh Folk Songs, The Song of the Blacksmith, Two Part-Songs, Two Carols); Christopher Raeburn (The Hymn of Jesus)
Recording engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson (Humbert Wolfe Songs, Ave Maria, Three Welsh Folk Songs, The Song of the Blacksmith, Two Part-songs, Two Carols); Alan Reeve (The Hymn of Jesus)
Recording location: Kingsway Hall, London, United Kingdom, March 1962 (The Hymn of Jesus), December 1965 (Humbert Wolfe Songs, Ave Maria, Three Welsh Folk Songs, The Song of the Blacksmith, Two Part-songs, Two Carols)
“most beautifully sung” Gramophone Magazine (Two Part-Songs)
“Britten’s accompanying matches the unfailing understanding of the singing, and with its excellent quality this can be warmly recommended” Gramophone Magazine (Humbert Wolfe Songs)
“a tremendous piece of invention” Gramophone Magazine (The Evening Watch)
“this is a fine and vital performance that vividly conveys the exultant and the mystical nature of the Hymn” Gramophone Magazine (The Hymn of Jesus)