The work is at once pastoral and romantic, the music fully expressing Holst’s affection for the landscape. It is also a gentle tribute to the great designer and Socialist visionary, William Morris, who was one of Holst’s great heroes, evoking Morris’ vision of the English countryside as a Heaven on Earth. It is a joyful work with hints of the greatness to come, and his masterpiece The Planets, with its iconic opening Mars, the Bringer of War. Invocation, a hauntingly contemplative work for cello and orchestra, has a shimmering, mystical quality that is curiously evocative – exotic, and yet somehow, unmistakably English. Written during the build up to the Second World War, The Variations on an Original Theme is a brilliantly varied portrait gallery of Elgar’s friends, family and neighbours. The musical caricatures contain some of the most charming and deeply felt music Elgar ever penned.

Works and composers

Holst Symphony in F 'The Cotswolds'
Holst Mars, the Bringer of War
Holst Invocation
Elgar Enigma Variations