There's no particular Gustav Holst anniversary being celebrated at the moment, so perhaps it is just the current emphasis on all things British that has encouraged EMI to bring together such a comprehensive range of the Holst recordings from its back catalogue. The first disc inevitably begins with The Planets, in the final, uncompromising version that Adrian Boult made with the London Philharmonic in 1978, which remains one the finest around. It also includes another Holst masterpiece, the homage to Thomas Hardy, Egdon Heath, with André Previn conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. The other discs contain many less well-known pieces, especially choral settings that aren't all out of the top drawer. There's the Ode to Death, a Whitman setting, conducted by Richard Hickox, and the Choral Fantasia, under Holst's daughter Imogen, recorded in 1963, as well as works like the Hymn of Jesus (the Charles Groves version) and the Choral Symphony (Boult again, from 1974). The one significant omission is the greatest of Holst's operas, Savitri, but the set does include the other two one-acters, The Wandering Scholar and At the Boar's Head; Steuart Bedford conducts the former, David Atherton the latter.
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