C Matthews, Holst: The Planets; The Mystic Trumpeter

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: C Matthews,Holst
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: The Planets; The Mystic Trumpeter
PERFORMER: Claire Rutter (soprano); Royal Scottish National Orchestra & Women’s Chorus/David Lloyd-Jones
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555776
Colin Matthews’s Pluto makes a weirdly effective coda to the seven familiar movements of Hoist’s The Planets. The styles may be worlds apart, but Matthews’s command of the orchestra is comparable with Hoist’s, and after all, Pluto is the eccentric member of our solar system, its orbit out of sync with those of the other eight planets. The question is, will you want to hear Pluto every time you play the Holst? If not, then you’re better off with the Hyperion recording, where the tracking allows you the choice. But, good as that version is, this is better -in fact it’s the most impressive performance of The Planets I’ve heard for quite a while. The RSNO is on excellent form, and David Lloyd-Jones controls the pacing and brings out the character of each movement with exceptional skill. ‘Mars’ is urgent and compelling, ‘Jupiter’ has grandeur without inflation, the humour of ‘Uranus’ is suitably dark, and even the pallid central section of ‘Venus’ comes across rather well. Best of all is ‘Saturn’ (the movement Holst himself liked best) which builds slowly but inexorably to a cathartic climax then melts into luminous stillness. Added to this is a fine performance of The Mystic Trumpeter – perhaps the finest of Hoist’s long-neglected early works. His friend Vaughan Williams admired it, and in this recording you can see why — the influence of Wagner is still detectable, but so much of the mature Hoist is here too, and his youthful Romanticism was never more infectious. Stephen Johnson

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