St. Paul's Suite (Holst, arr. Sparke)

Between 1905 and 1934, Gustav Holst was Director of Music at St Paulís Girlsí School in Brook Green, London. In 1913 the school added a new music wing, which afforded Holst a soundproofed room in which to teach and compose. St. Paulís Suite, written for the schoolís string orchestra, was premiered there in the same year.

The suite comprises four movements:-

1. Jig

With frequent metre changes between 6/8 and 9/8, this energetic dance juxtaposes two folk-like melodies and builds in texture and complexity to a thrilling close.

2. Ostinato

A simple four-note figure plays throughout this movement (both in triple and duple time) over which Holst cleverly places two contrasting melodies.

3. Intermezzo

Sharp contrasts in mood characterize this movement: a wistful melody, played over a ground bass, alternates with an energetic and rhythmic dance.

4. Finale (The Dargason)

This movement is adapted from the last movement of the composerís 1911 Second Suite in F for military band. Holst brilliantly combines The Dargason, a melody from Playford's 1651 collection of English country dance tunes, The English Dancing Master, with the traditional melody, Greensleeves.