Transparently a Success
Gustav Holst's 'The Cloud Messenger'
impresses RODERIC DUNNETT
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) composed around thirty works that declare his interest in oriental, and especially Hindu, culture and religion, and texts written in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language that was cousin to Greek and Latin. The interest extended to opera: Sita was a large scale three-act opera of Wagnerian descent (compare Joseph Holbrooke's The Cauldron of Annwn trilogy of broadly the same period, based on the Celtic Mabinogion) that languishes unperformed; Savitri (1908-9), his one-acter based on the Hindu Mabharata, for three solo voices, concealed female choir, three wind and eight strings, has enjoyed better fortune since its premiere in 1916. His all-female voice Hymns from the Rig Veda (four groups, revealing elements of a new harmonic exploration, the first three reaching publication in 1911), spanned the years 1908-14.
However the work that Holst firmly believed his best in the overall 'Eastern' genre was the last one he composed, The Cloud Messenger, for mezzo-soprano solo, chorus and orchestra...
Copyright © 26 November 2016