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Track(s) taken from CDH55042

The Dream-City

1929; Nos 1-4, 6, 8, 7, 11, 9 & 12 of Twelve Songs, H174 Op 48
author of text

Patrizia Kwella (soprano), City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox (conductor)
Recording details: June 1983
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Release date: November 1987
Total duration: 26 minutes 26 seconds


'Most vivid and sensitive performance' (Gramophone)

'An attractive disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Full, immediate recording' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This CD contains one of the masterpieces of British music of the last century … Savitri deserves a place of honour on the shelf marked "British" (International Record Review)

'If you have not come across Holst’s Savitri, then I envy you the prospect of hearing this small miracle of a one-act opera for the first time. Fine performances make this a budget-price bargain' (Classic FM Magazine)

'A fine issue' (Hi-Fi News)
The poetry of Humbert Wolfe (1885–1940) has today virtually disappeared, even from the anthologies. In the 1920s his work, meticulous in its craftsmanship and in its sensibility, was well known and Holst became a great admirer and friend after reading the collection published in 1927 as Requiem.

In 1929, on his return from a much-needed winter holiday in Italy, Holst set twelve of Wolfe’s poems for high voice and piano. Apart from the Four Songs for voice and violin (composed in 1917) they were the first solo songs he had written for more than twenty years, and they reveal a lyricism and warmth often absent from his music. At their first performance in Paris they were grouped together under the title of The Dream-City. But they were not intended to form a cycle, and were published by Augener (after three other publishers had rejected them) as individual songs.

My intention in orchestrating ten of the songs was specifically to create an orchestral song-cycle, and so I have in a few places composed linking material. This is most in evidence in the third part of the work where the three songs play without a break. I have joined the first song (which is slightly expanded) to the second, and the third to the fourth. But in the second part, the work’s centre of gravity, the three poems remain separate.

The music is scored more elaborately, perhaps, than Holst might have allowed himself. But, bearing in mind the pianistic nature of the original, I hope that the result is as close to the spirit of the music as a conscious attempt to recreate Holst’s own orchestral idiom would be.

from notes by Colin Matthews © 2000

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