Holst, Gustav: Twelve Humbert Wolfe Songs
Introduction by Imogen Holst.
Betelgeuse (D – F)
Dream City (D – E flat)
Envoi (C – G)
Floral bandit (C – A flat)
In the street of lost time (E – G)
Journey’s end (C – G flat)
Little music (D – F)
Now in these fairylands (D – F)
Persephone (D – G flat)
Rhyme (D – G)
Things lovelier (D – G)
Thought (C sharp – F sharp)
Holst wrote the Twelve Songs in 1929, after an unusually long holiday of three months in the winter sunshine of southern Italy. Before the holiday Gustav had been weary and depressed, but he came back to England feeling relaxed, and almost immediately he began to work on the Humbert Wolfe poems. The relaxation can be heard in the music.
The Twelve Songs were first sung by Dorothy Silk, who was Holst’s ideal of what a soprano soloist should be. She sang them at a private performance in Paris on 9th November 1929, at the house of Louise Dyer, the founder of Editions de L’Oiseau Lyre, and three months later, on 5th February 1930, she gave the first public performance at the Wigmore Hall.
The Twelve Songs were never intended to be a song-cycle. At the Paris performance in 1929 they were gathered together under the title The Dream City, but Holst discarded this idea and left the order of the songs to the choice of the performers. In this edition, the order is that of a recording made in the Maltings, Snape, by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten.