A quick guide to the best recordings of The Planets
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.
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.
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.
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Boult
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.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/George Hurst
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.
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.
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.