Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra, Bedrich Smetana, Holst: The Planets

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Holst: The Planets

Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra, Bedrich Smetana
Everyone has a favourite planet. What’s yours?

Everyone has a favourite planet — is it the big, oh-so-English tune at the heart of "Jupiter" ("I vow to thee my country" for all you British hymn-singers!); or it is the dreamy measures of "Venus"; or maybe the last, "Neptune," which involves the first fade-out in classical music — a wordless women's chorus blending with the orchestra before slipping away into nothingness. Holst's seven-movement The Planets, first heard in 1918, takes its cue not from the individual planets 'astronomical significance but rather from their astrological roles. This gives Holst a palette from which to draw some of his most visionary imaginings — and in crafting his individual visions of the heavenly bodies, he gave the film industry a vocabulary that it still employs. The LSO knows this work inside out — Holst himself recorded The Planets with them in 1926 — and under Sir Colin Davis gives an elegant performance that prizes beauty over drama.