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Gustav Holst arr Richard Brasier
SCHERZO (Unfinished Symphony) for Organ Duet
Goodmusic GM326

Catalogue Number: GM326

ISMN: 9790222314702

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Scherzo arr.Brasier image
Gustav Holst started work on his second symphony on 30th July 1933. He decided to begin with a scherzo. He finished the first sketch on 18th August 1933. During the final eight months of his life, he managed to orchestrate the Scherzo (H192), through bouts of illness. Unfortunately, he never commenced work on the other two or three movements (whatever he intended). In the event, Holst never heard a live performance of the work.
The first performance was given on 6th February 1935 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under its conductor, Adrian Boult. The concert took place at the Queen's Hall in London.
As Michael Short states in his biography of Holst, because of its brevity and unfamiliarity, Boult suggested that it should be performed twice in the concert. He went on the say, "It is fiendishly difficult to play and I imagine not too easy to listen to and so I think a case for immediate repetition might be made."
The Musical Times later wrote, "As it stands, it sounds too inconclusive, but it is characteristically angular, rather chilly in temperature and European rather than national in style… as if Hindemith had taken a hand in a scherzo by Vaughan Williams."
Following comment by critics that it must have been intended as a work complete in itself, Vaughan Williams wrote to the Times on 11th February 1935 saying, "I remember well that when he (Holst) first showed it to me, he told me that he intended to write a symphony and that he had sketched the scherzo movement first."
The score was published by Boosey and Hawkes in 1947. There is also an arrangement for two pianos. Chris Cope, Holst Society

Background to this arrangement
This arrangement for organ duet of the Scherzo pushes the bounds of virtuosity on the organ to the very limit. The orchestral original transfers exceptionally well to the organ, so the task of re-committing to manuscript was not an onerous one. Rehearsing the work requires hours of slow practice, unnatural contortions of the human body, patience, and complete confidence in your performing partner. The work was premiered by Richard Brasier and Tom Bell on 7th March 2015 at Westminster Central Hall, as part of the annual London Organ Day. Richard Brasier

Duration c.7 minutes
A recording of the Scherzo, performed by Richard Brasier and Tom Bell, features on "Alpha & Omega - Gustav Holst, Christmas Music", on the EM Record label (EMR CD062)

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