Symphony in F major, op.8 “The Cotswolds”/Holst
April 2, 2011
First symphony efforts from composers are certainly a hit or miss as far as the classical listener is concerned. Usually the interest in a work will come from an experienced hobbyist who is looking to obtain everything a particular artist has written. Such is the case I’m sure with this first and only effort at a symphony from the pen of Holst, who is most known for his work The Planets, written some fifteen years later and is a spectacular orchestral masterpiece.
Written early in his composing career when Holst was playing trombone for the Carl Rosa Opera Company, the twenty seven minute work shows his immense talent as well as a certain amount of immaturity. The work doesn’t have that thread that binds it together.
The first movement begins with a fanfare that sounds like an opening to a swashbuckler film before the allegro is somewhat developed by the orchestra. It is far too short to draw any conclusions as it ends before it really gets started. The elegy is a thing of beauty and makes the whole symphony more than worthwhile. It has an air of mystery about it, is well developed, and is a fine adagio. It doesn’t have the sadness so often heard but offers more hope. The harmony between brass and strings is strong with the timpani playing a role in the movement. This movement makes one want to have this symphony. I’ve included a two minute audio clip.The scherzo is played at too slow a pace and lacks the necessary ingredient: liveliness. The last movement a second allegro doesn’t fare much better than the opening one. I like the introduction which is a nice fanfare but the overall development is lacking and the end which would have benefited from a rousing climax was dull and lackluster. I did like the brass an orchestra section that Gustav liked because of his trombone playing. The talent of Holst is shown in this very early work and he took this early work and improved on future works.
The work is well recorded (no technical info given) and performed by Bostock conducting the Munich Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra rehearsed properly and sounded well prepared.
The fan of Holst will want this recording for the seldom played material being offered. The second movement is outstanding and is well worth the price of the entire disk. Also included on the disk are Walt Whitman Overture, A Hampshire Suite, Perfect Fool, and Scherzo for Orchestra, an unfinished work from a symphony.
Scandinavian Classics CD# 220559. Previously released on Classico Class CD 284
Douglas Bostock conducting the Munich Symphony Orchestra.
Track Listing for Symphony only
1…. Allegro con brio (3:53)
2….Elegy (In Memoriam William Morris) Molto adagio (9:57)
3….Scherzo: Presto Allegretto (5:58)
4….Finale: Allegro moderato (7:21)
Total time is 27:09