It’s pretty rare for a whole concert to be dedicated to music by Holst – even rarer is one given over to Holsts, plural. On Monday, Elizabeth Watts and Julius Drake performed songs by Gustav and his daughter Imogen at Wigmore Hall. Of Gustav’s songs, I was already a fan of the ethereal ‘Dawn’ from his Hymns from the Rig Veda, and the downright creepy Betelgeuse from his Humbert Wolfe settings, both of which feature here. But my surprise discovery was three of Imogen’s arrangements of Appalachian folk songs collected by Cecil Sharp. They begin at 26:40, and are beautifully sung by Watts, with superbly clear diction and engaging presence. Amazingly, this was their world première performance – they were arranged in 1938.
The recital offers an intriguing insight into the personalities of these two related composers, more on which can be found in Joanna Wyld’s elegant programme note. The whole concert is well worth watching, and is available to view for 30 days.