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CD Review

Gustav Holst

The Planets, Op. 32 (H 125)

London Philharmonic Women's Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
London Philharmonic LPO-0047 43:06
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This 2010 recording of The Planets is a real winner, and the only regret is that the urgent tempos make this a rather short disc. Since the price is usually pretty low, you can afford to take the risk. Vladimir Jurowski has almost singlehandedly ensured that the London Philharmonic Orchestra has a better in-house label than the London Symphony Orchestra does, with his incisive and acclaimed recordings easily outclassing the tired efforts of Colin Davis and the like. LPO has already given us a first-rank Manfred, and this is also very fine.

English orchestras usually don't attack their own music with this kind of intensity, but Jurowski comes close to meeting the tempos of the conductor's own recording. More importantly than being speedy, Jurowski has his London Philharmonic players excited and giving 100 percent. Sure, the quieter moments aren't as sensual with the quicker approach, but at least nothing is a bore. Mars has real menace – though you can play it slowly and be just as effective – while Jupiter acquires its nobility through sheer musical impact as opposed to milking the tunes. Mercury is unsurprisingly a thrill, but Venus could obviously use a little more repose.

The Chorus of the London Philharmonic is a world-class group who have starred on many of the orchestra's finest recordings. The Holst requires only the women, and they are excellent. The live sound is also quite good, with the energy of the event effectively captured before a generally quiet audience. I imagine that collectors already have a few Planets on their shelves, but this was definitely an experience worth preserving, and well worth your time.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman

Trumpet