Holst, Britten

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Britten,Holst
WORKS: The Planets
PERFORMER: Philharmonia Orchestra, CBSO/Simon Rattle
CATALOGUE NO: 5 75868 2 Reissue (1980, 1984)
Perhaps to compete with Naxos’s much-vaunted recent Planets, EMI has reissued Simon Rattle’s 1980 Philharmonia recording at bargain price, in well-refurbished sound. It is efficient but uneven. The youthful Rattle is surprisingly convincing in the steady tread of ‘Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age’, but the juggernaut of ‘Mars’ sometimes loses momentum, and the big tune in ‘Jupiter’ fails to soar above its stodgy accompaniment. More successful overall is the coupling, a 1984 account of Britten’s Sinfonia da requiem of a power and compassion to match the composer’s own fine version, and better played and recorded. This in itself may be enough to attract you to this disc. Otherwise, David Lloyd-Jones on Naxos offers a fresh and vivid reading of The Planets (complete with Colin Matthews’s recent Pluto), imaginatively complemented by Holst’s early The Mystic Trumpeter. Or, for a few pounds more and without a coupling, Charles Dutoit’s virtuoso Montreal account remains outstanding. Anthony Burton