Holst: Savitri; 7 Partsongs; Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda

Holst: Savitri; 7 Partsongs; Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda
The Purcell Singers; Imogen Holst
Catalogue No.

An inspired arrangement between Decca and Imogen Holst, led to a series of pioneering recordings of her father Gustav Holst’s music, which appeared on Argo and are now comprehensively released on CD as part of the Eloquence series. This collection highlights Holst’s fascination with mysticism and the Orient, with the inclusion of the Rig-Veda Hymns and the chamber opera Savitri, boasting a trio of luminaries – Janet Baker, Robert Tear and Thomas Helmsley – who, with Imogen Holst, give us a heart-rending performance of this episode from the Mahabharata, which tells how Savitri, the wife of a young woodcutter, wins back her husband, for whom Death has come, by the strength of her love and devotion The Seven Part-Songs, set to poems by Holst’s friend, Robert Bridges, are subtle and gracious, as befits their verses. Imogen Holst’s notes for the LPs – ‘acutely perceptive, objective and candid’ noted Gramophone’s reviewer Lionel Salter – are here reprinted as are the full texts.


Choral Hymns from the Rig-Veda
The Purcell Singers
Osian Ellis, harp
Imogen Holst

Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Robert Tear,
Thomas Helmsley, bass
The Purcell Singers
English Chamber Orchestra
Imogen Holst

3 Seven Part-Songs, Op. 44
The Purcell Singers
English Chamber Orchestra
Imogen Holst

4 The Evening-Watch, Op. 43 No. 1
The Purcell Singers
Imogen Holst

Recording information

Recording Producer: David Harvey
Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK,  October-November 1965


‘this classic performance will be difficult to better … Janet Baker gives a radiant and most moving interpretation of the title role’ (Savitri) Gramophone

‘The ladies of the Purcell Singers give atmospheric performances, with great purity of intonation and wonderfully clear words … the engineering of the whole disc is impeccable’ (Rig Veda Hymns). Unreservedly recommended.’ Gramophone