Holst The Planets
Previn is busy recording and re-recording English masterpieces with the RPO since he became its conductor. His performance of The Planets with the LSO for EMI has earned very high praise but I think this new version is better, with the exception of ''Mars'', where the balance goes oddly out of focus and the recording does not quite have the impact this shattering piece requires. so Karajan (DG) still holds the field for me, with the recent Andrew Davis ruled out by his quirky (and unsuccessful) use of a children's choir in ''Neptune'' (EMI). The women of the Brighton Festival Chorus sing marvellously in tune and sound effectively disembodied as they recede from hearing.
The orchestral playing in ''Venus'' is most sensitive and controlled, and how well Previn observes the two bars of morendo just before fig. 6. Celesta-players don't often receive bouquets in print or in fact, but the RPO's deserves one for the very telling and piquant performance on this record, especially in ''Mercury'' and ''Neptune''. The engineers may share in it, too, for the balance is notably good, ''Mars'' again excepted. Previn is particularly impressive in ''Saturn'', where the French influence (no matter) on Holst has never sounded quiet so obvious. The big tune in ''Jupiter'' is presented without self-consciousness, though some of the jollity leading up to it becomes a bit four-square. ''Uranus'' is superb—playing and recording.'