Holst: The Planets; Bowen: Suite in Three Movements, etc. – York2
The generative threads of this music were spun at St Paul’s Girls’ School on Brook Green in Hammersmith, West London, in the elegant Edwardian buildings where Gustav Holst served as the school’s first Director of Music from 1905 until his death in 1934. He devised atonal and polytonal canons for the girls’ aural training. There was a superb female choir on hand, and colleagues whom he trusted could work from his dictation and try out his new ideas. His bright, well-heated, soundproof room was where he wrote and rehearsed The Planets before its auspicious public debut in 1918 at the Queen’s Hall.
In a cupboard in that same room was found a leather-bound, engraved copy of the piano four hands version, carefully prepared by Holst and his contemporaries on the staff. It is signed by the composer and credited to Nora Day and Vally Lasker. his devoted colleagues and amanuenses. It is well known that he often dictated compositions to these respected teachers when the painful neuritis from which he suffered for many years precluded normal writing. This four-hand version of this well-known orchestral work offers fascinating listening and is coupled with highly attractive music by York Bowen.
York2 (Fiona York and John York) has a fine reputation as the ‘duo with a difference’, gained through the pair’s exploration of larger-scale and contemporary scores alongside the rich and familiar duet repertoire. The duo has given concerts for societies and festivals in the UK and Australia, on BBC Radio 3, CBC TV, and at the Salzburg Festival, and performed concertos at the Barbican Centre and South Bank in London.
Nicholas Salwey - International Record Review - April 2011