Ever been curious to hear a musical setting of Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn"? Well here's your chance. It's the second movement of Holst's First Choral Symphony (although he called it "First," there was never a second). You know the poem: "Beauty is truth and truth, beauty…." This is a highly enjoyable piece, and in sections of the first and third movement, the composer of The Planets makes some sounds that recall his most popular work. But there's much more to Holst than space music. He was a master at writing for chorus, his word setting always highly colorful and never stiff or "Victorian" sounding. This performance is the best available, so if you're intrigued, go for it.
A leading vihuela specialist, the Argentinian virtuoso Ariel Abramovich has already devoted two albums to the favourite instrument of the Iberian Renaissance, the first on Arcana (Esteban Daça, El Parnasso, A316, 2002) and the second on Carpe Diem (Diego Pisador, Si me llaman, 2009). For this third instalment he is joined by one of the world’s most respected and innovative solo lutenists, Jacob Heringman, for a vihuela duo project which is the result of years of research and performing. While there is a significant number of publications for two lutes from the sixteenth century, only one of the seven collections for vihuela de mano includes duets, and it is precisely that collection that was the main source of inspiration for this project.
British multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield offers up this warmly crafted sequel to his 1975 classic Ommadawn, marking a return to a more organic style of composing. After polling fans online about what type of approach they'd like to hear, Oldfield was overwhelmingly urged to revisit the acoustic style heard on his first three albums. Eager for the challenge, he spent nearly a year in his studio crafting what would become 2017's Return to Ommadawn, an instrumental meditation on the prog-folk fantasy world he'd originally imagined four decades prior. A true solo effort, Oldfield plays every instrument on the record, which is divided into "Part I" and "Part II," each lasting about 20 minutes in a nod to the original's vinyl format…
The reasons for Holst’s relative neglect, beyond The Planets and the Band Suites, aren’t hard to fathom. He wrote no large works in conventional forms, and never repeated himself. Even the Choral Symphony on poetry by Keats, here in its finest recorded performance to date (by Boult), owes very little to precedent–Mahler’s Eighth and Elgar’s The Black Knight, perhaps–and in any case features Holst’s personal combination of “spacey” orchestral color and rhythmic complexity (sample below). The music is both personal, technically virtuosic, and however beautiful somewhat cool emotionally. There is nothing else quite like it in the early 20th century.
VIVARTE is the legendary Sony Classical period music label known for producing outstanding recordings on period instruments. The recordings by legendary producer Wolf Erichson are done with the best recording technologies and by one of the best production teams in the world (Tritonus Music Production, Stuttgart). The label started producing when Sony Classical was founded (in 1989). The production came to a standstill recently when Wolf Erichson retired and DHM became the new label of period music within Sony Classical. Among the outstanding artists which recorded for Vivarte are: Anner Bylsma, Gustav Leonhardt, Jos Van Immerseel, Tafelmusik, Huelgas Ensemble and others.