It would be wonderful to say something nice about this disc, Gustav Holst: Composer as Arranger, but beyond the fact that these recordings appear to be world premieres of works by a major English composer, it's hard to know what that might be. One cannot doubt Jon Ceander Mitchell's dedication and sincerity; he clearly loves Holst and loves these scores. One cannot doubt the Philharmonia Bulgarica's commitment and intensity; they surely play with all the polish, energy, and enthusiasm of which they are capable. And one cannot fault producer Valeri Vatchev's competence and professionalism; the Philharmonia Bulgarica sounds like real instruments in a real space in real time. The trouble with the conducting is that Mitchell's sincerity is not matched by his ability, and while the performances hold together from start to finish, they never sing or dance. The trouble with the playing is that the Philharmonia Bulgarica's intensity is not equaled by its skill, and while it only occasionally misses a note, it never catches fire. And the trouble with the sound is that Vatchev's recording has placed the instruments in a very small space and given the players very little time to master the scores. For fans of Holst who have already heard everything from The Planets to The Mystic Trumpeter and can't resist the temptation of hearing his Purcell arrangements, his dance and folk song arrangements, his incidental music, and his orchestral arrangement of his own early work for violin and piano called Greeting, this disc will be irresistible. For most other listeners, however, it will be negligible.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Pan's Anniversary, incidental music, App. 3/1|
|Pagaent of St. Martin-in-the-Field, incidental music, App. 3/22|
|The Gordian Knot Unty'd, incidental music, Z. 597|
|The Virtuous Wife, or, Good Luck at Last, incidental music, Z. 611|
|The Married Beau, or, the Curious Impertinent, incidental music, Z. 603|