The best recordings of Holst's The Planets

As the centenary of the completion of The Planets was celebrated at the First Night of the Proms, we bring you the best recordings of each movement of the suite 

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The best recordings of Holst's The Planets
Holst's The Planets
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A quick guide to the best recordings of The Planets

Mars

Philharmonia Orchestra/Simon Rattle
EMI 575 8672

As 'The bringer of war', Mars needs to be brash, brutal and unsettling. Rattle and the Philharmonia, in their 1987 recording, deliver in spades.

 

Venus

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
Virgin 561 5102

Bringer of peace? Venus can appear as the bringer of blandness. Not in this 1990s recording, thanks to the RLPO’s characterful playing.

 

Mercury

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
EMI 567 7482

You’d be surprised how many conductors plod through this most sprightly of the Planets. But Sir Adrian Boult’s ‘Winged Messenger’ from 1978 flits and darts with sparkle.

 

Jupiter

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Boult
Beulah 2PD12

This 1945 classic recording was, one reviewer said at the time, the first to make The Planets shine. There’s drive, energy and bundles of fun. Don’t be put off by the sound quality.

 

Saturn

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/George Hurst
Contour CN2020

An obscure Planets from 1974 comes up trumps – Hurst and his Bournemouth forces brilliantly guide us from the horrors of impending old age to a gladdening new wisdom.

 

Uranus

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Hadley
Alto ALC 1013

Crashes and bangs galore, as the spellbinding Handley terrifies and enchants in equal measure in this rumbustious version of Holst’s ‘Magician’ from 1993.

 

Neptune

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Simon Rattle
EMI 369 6902

Rattle captures Neptune’s magical pianissimo opening and, when it enters, the choir seems to float weightlessly – there’s a sense of gazing into the infinite universe. 

 

 

What's on at the Proms tonight?

First Night of the Proms: Friday 13 July 2018, 8.15pm

Vaughan Williams Toward the Unknown Region

Holst The Planets

Anna Meredith/59 Productions Five Telegrams 

National Youth Choir of Great Britain
BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Proms Youth Ensemble
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo

 

The Prom will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

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