Monday, 6 October 2008

Imogen Holst, Composer

“It is quite impossible to thank you for what you have done for me & meant to me these last months…Everywhere one goes one hears praise & affection for you, …echoed in my own heart,” wrote Benjamin Britten to Imogen Holst in a letter reproduced in the latest volume of Letters from a Life.

It is easy to see Imogen Holst as a handmaiden to others’ creativity: Director of Music at Dartington; Britten’s assistant; editor of her father, Gustav Holst’s, music, etc. However a new CD release reminds us of her own talent as a composer. Court Lane Music, a young group of musicians founded by Simon and Thomas Hewitt Jones, have finally released their CD of Imogen Holst’s String Chamber Music, including such pieces as the magical Fall of the Leaf and the haunting String Quintet, which includes a set of variations on a theme she discovered in one of her father’s notebooks.

Much of this music has remained unpublished and a number of the pieces on this remarkable disc are world premier recordings. It’s a project that has been in the works for some time, one that has felt almost “jinxed” in Simon’s words, and one that the London criminal fraternity couldn’t stop. Reward Court Lane’s tenacity by buying Imogen Holst’s String Chamber Music, and read about her life in Christopher Grogan’s acclaimed biography which includes her own diary covering her time as Benjamin Britten’s music assistant.

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