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Holst: The Perfect Fool Ballet Op. 39, The Lure, etc / Hickox, et al

Notes & Reviews:

Gramophone Magazine
Though our modern age continues to extol ThePlanets as most archetypal of its composer, this recording of music written and completed during the 1920s serves only to reiterate that Holst's musical purview was much broader, and while he never enjoyed recognition for his ballet music (with the exception perhaps of The Perfect Fool as an orchestral suite), his originality rarely faltered.

All the works featured here - a 'must' for all Holst fans - reveal how he built steadily on the experimental paradigms of The Planets with an orchestral technique second-to-none, 'naked' (as Vaughan Williams once described) in its exposed, gossamer textures.

Holst's distinctive sound is carefully manicured in this recording; the rapid 'mercurial' passages of string- and wind-writing of The PerfectFool are delivered with exemplary crispness and vitality; the superimposed fourth harmonies of the unfamiliar The Lure, which develop mysterious bitonal 'saturnine' textures, look forward to the composer's unaccompanied choral masterpiece The Evening Watch as well as the desolate landscape of Egdon Heath, while the two choral ballets, The Golden Goose and The Morningof the Year (the former being weaker in quality) ebb and flow between Jovian elation and the more bizarre neo-classicism hinted at in 'Uranus' and the strange modernist textures of the later Choral Fantasia. Hickox certainly brings an electric appeal to these little-known, pointillistic scores as does the more finely tuned sense of ensemble between mystical voices and orchestra.

Perhaps the most compelling item on this disc, however, is The Lure which gives us a 'reworking' of The Perfect Fool but with a different climactic outcome derived from the warmer timbres and harmonies of the Ode to Death." Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010


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