Various Artists

The British Music Collection: Gustav Holst

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

If you've got The Planets and you're looking for more music by Holst, this is the disc to get. Or, rather, the pair of discs to get because this two-disc set contains most of Holst's great music beyond The Planets in performances that range from the sprightly to the weighty to the definitive. Christopher Hogwood, the driest of the English period instrument conductors, directs the American St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in what can only be called sprightly performances of Holst's delightful St. Paul Suite and his effervescent A Fugal Overture. Adrian Boult, the conductor who gave The Planets its premiere and who was arguably the greatest English conductor of the twentieth century, gives what can only be called weighty performances of Holst's Egdon Heath, his orchestral masterpiece; The Hymn of Jesus, his choral-orchestral masterpiece; and his ballet The Perfect Fool, his stage masterpiece. Imogen Holst, the composer's daughter, directs the Purcell Singers in what can only be called definitive performances of Holst's otherworldly Choral Hymns (4) from the Rig Veda, his evocative Partsongs (7), and his sublime The Evening Watch. Decca's stereo sound on the Boult and Holst recordings was superb in its day and the digital remastering only makes it better. Decca's digital sound on the Hogwood recordings was crisp in its day and the digital remastering is crisper.

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