Gustav Holst’s The Planets
Vernon Handley, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
One of the more hard-driven Planets I know of. By which I mean it is sonically and stereophonically wonderful (though, there’s an organ part which is seldom heard -and it took me listening to Dutoit’s 1986 recording with the Montreal Symphonic before that was brought out to glorious effect). It seems to me to be an incredibly exciting Planets, too. Never judge a Planets by Mars, but if Mars makes the back of your neck tingle, then we’re certainly on the way: this one does that in spades. I think the Venus is gorgeous, though: it’s not slow and langourous, but entirely and delightfully voluptuous. Mercury is fleet-footed but generous and warm, not skimpy and emaciated. Jupiter is a little flat-footed for me, but the timpani are great and the ‘big tune’ is done beautifully. A fairly average Saturn gives way to a thrilling Uranus, with a great timpani opening and excellent continuing percussion and harp throughout. His Neptune is one of the more exciting ones I can think of, too. No sloppy, ectoplasmic ethereality here! Anyway 9.5/10 from me for this one, I think. It is one of the best I know (Dutoit excepted).