This fun, lighthearted dance fugue is a great piece to listen to and to play, despite some technical challenges for everyone involved.
When Holst was commissioned to write ‘Hammersmith’ for the BBC Wireless Military Band in 1928, he asked if he could first write a transcription of Bach's Organ Fugue in G Major BWV 577 (from Preludes, Fugues and Fantasias) as a sort of orchestration project. This was because he had not written for band for some time, and felt he was out of practice with writing for winds. Holst himself titled the piece ‘Fugue a La Gigue’, presumably because of its dance-like compound meter.
Comparing the piece to Hammersmith, we see several characteristic similarities, including unison clarinet writing, as well as the contrapuntal play between different instrumental groups.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Organ Fugue in G Major, BWV 577 - "Fugue a La Gigue," arr. Gustav Holst
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Wind Ensemble, Evan Feldman, conductor