Holst • El­gar

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral -

Holst: The Plan­ets; El­gar: Pomp &

Cir­cum­stance March No. 1

Royal Phil­har­monic Orches­tra/

Mike Batt

Guild GMCD 7814 59:14 mins

With record­ings of The Plan­ets eas­ily avail­able from Si­mon Rat­tle, Adrian Boult, and ★er­bert von Kara­jan to Gus­tav ★olst him­self, one may won­der why any punter, cu­rio hunters apart, would seek out one con­ducted by the man who dis­cov­ered singer Katie Melua and con­cocted the Wombles pop act. Though cer­tainly a lively mu­sic­maker and im­pre­sario, Mike Batt is rarely en­coun­tered con­duct­ing straight clas­si­cal mu­sic.

Four se­lec­tions from the present al­bum, which bears no di­rect con­nec­tion to Batt’s short­lived cross­over band The Plan­ets, ap­peared in the pop­u­lar chil­dren’s mag­a­zine part­work The Mag­i­cal Mu­sic Box in 1993. Twenty-five years later, we finally get the com­plete record­ing, plus a du­ti­ful Pomp & Cir­cum­stance March No. 1 filler, courtesy of El­gar.

The per­for­mance is it­self ef­fi­cient with­out be­ing com­pelling, though there is some spir­ited play­ing from the Royal Phil­har­monic Orches­tra – I es­pe­cially ap­pre­ci­ated the brass growl near the end of ‘Mer­cury’. But you al­ways feel that Batt is rid­ing on the mu­sic’s sur­face.

The sound and acous­tic (of Wat­ford Town ★all) are not ideal; there are blowsy for­tis­si­mos and a clar­ity short­age that leaves even the qui­eter plan­ets veiled by clouds. Ge­off Brown



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