Among the most popular masterpieces of British post-Romantic music are Gustav Holst's The Planets and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, which are paired on this 2019 BIS release by Andrew Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. In part, these works' favored status with audiences is due to their highly memorable and stirring melodies, spectacular scoring, and evocative tone painting. By themselves, these characteristics should be enough to guarantee enduring popularity, yet layers of mystery that surround these works have also contributed to their lasting appeal. Holst's score was inspired by his personal interpretation of astrology, rather than an astronomical view of the planets, and Elgar's series of coded portraits of his friends and the secret source of his original theme have added to the Enigma Variations' mystique. This is the kind of grand and expansive repertoire that Litton seems to relish, and his readings with the Bergen musicians offer great excitement and sufficient emotional depth to win over any listener. BIS provides extraordinary audiophile sound, which makes this hybrid SACD even more attractive to connoisseurs. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 'Enigma Variations'|
|The Planets, suite for large orchestra, Op. 32|