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Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
The Planets Suite, Op.32 (1914-1916) [49:15]
Mars, the bringer of war [7:26]
Venus, the bringer of peace [8:38]
Mercury, the winged messenger [3:53]
Jupiter, the bringer of jollity [8:00]
Saturn, bringer of old age [8:43]
Uranus, the magician [5:43]
Neptune, the mystic [6:54]
St. Paul’s Suite, Op.29 No.2 (1912-1913) [12:38]
Jig [3:16]
Ostinato [1:50]
Intermezzo [4:06]
Finale (the Dargason) [3:26]
Brook Green Suite (1933) [7:14]
Prelude [2:04]
Air [2:40]
Dance [2:30]

Ambrosian Singers/John McCarthy

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth (Brook Green)

rec. St Augustine’s Church, Kilburn, London, October 1993 (Planets; St Paul’s); CTS Studio, London, August 1994. DDD

originally issued in 1994 as Tring International CD TRP007

ALTO ALC1013 [69:26]


Experience Classicsonline

Although I am deeply frustrated by the comparative neglect of the rest of Holst’s incredible output, it is undeniable that, however much the fact of its popularity depressed its composer, the Planets is an absolute masterpiece, and one of the seminal orchestral works of the twentieth century. This Alto disc contains a re-mastered version of an excellent performance of Holst’s Planets from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Vernon Handley, recorded in 1993. It is certainly worth listening to. From the very first note, it is gripping – with a fervent and fairly swift Mars, the bringer of war, which includes some fantastic growlings from the brass. In Venus, the bringer of peace, the strings come into their own – radiant, and with a splendid sense of delicacy. Handley takes Jupiter, the bringer of jollity at a steady pace, yet leads it with a sense of inexorability to a wonderfully exultant climax. In the opening of Saturn, bringer of old age, the Royal Philharmonic capture an amazing sense of menace and threat, and it is just rather a shame that someone drops something on the floor 2 minutes in! Uranus, the magician is suitably urgent, the brass snarling away again, and in the final movement, Neptune, the mystic the voices of the Ambrosian Singers are effectively ethereal.

The St Paul’s Suite was written for the school that Holst so loved, and at which he was music director for over half his life. This lovely piece - which, to the mind of this old Paulina, depicts various facets of the school - is here given a resonant performance by Handley. The disc concludes with the Brook Green Suite, conducted by Barry Wordsworth, who evokes a warm sound from the Royal Philharmonic.

A disc well worth getting hold of, with three of Holst’s best-loved works, including a deeply exciting rendition of the Planets.

Em Marshall

see also Review by Rob Barnett and Recordings of Year 2007







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