In his original review of this CD, an important reissue from the Collins Classics English Song Series, John Steane was particularly struck by the Four Songs for voice and violin, settings of medieval texts, inspired by the composer hearing one of his pupils singing to herself and playing her violin in Thaxted Church. I also find them singularly moving, especially in this plangently toned performance by Susan Gritton. She is no less remarkable in the Six Songs, early pieces in which Holst perfectly responds to an eclectic choice of poetry, nowhere more so than in the opening piece from Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’.
Philip Langridge is equally well suited to the 12 Humbert Wolfe settings, H174, to which he brings his customary gift of an immediate response to the texts in hand. His empathy with poet and composer here could not be closer. The Vedic Hymns are more rarified, mystical territory and not so easy for singer or listener to encompass. Christopher Maltman does well by them, except where an incipient beat (since eliminated from his vocal armoury) sometimes spoils pleasure in his singing.
Pianist Steuart Bedford is responsive to all the varying moods of these groups, and in the opening group Louisa Fuller is the sensitive violinist.