Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Holst: The Planets; St. Paul's Suite; Brook Green Suite

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If this were to be the only recording of The Planets you ever heard, it would be enough. Vernon Handley's clear, firm leadership combined with the Royal Philharmonic's colorful, virtuosic musicianship results in a wonderfully evocative and powerful rendition of Holst's well-worn score. Producer Alan Peters' 1993 digital sound is big, wide, and very loud. The additions of Barry Wordsworth and the Royal Philharmonic's lively and warmhearted 1993 and 1994 recordings of Holst's St. Paul's Suite and Brook Green Suites give The Planets attractive couplings and the disc ample playing time. Indeed, while acquaintance with this disc might send you looking for either more recordings of The Planets, more recordings of Holst, or both, it's unlikely you'll meet many finer performances. Some might understandably prefer the authority of Adrian Boult's recordings since he gave the work its premiere and continued to champion it through his long career, but since Handley was Boult's protégée, the line of musical succession is clear, and Handley's more energetic interpretation may plausibly cast the deciding vote in his favor.

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