Charles Mackerras was so impressive in such a wide range of repertoire that we’re apt to forget just how great almost any of recordings is likely to be. Here is a case in point. I was taking a car service to Grand Central Station last week, and the driver had a classical music station on the radio: the ballet from The Perfect Fool. The performance was fabulous: colorful, bright, rhythmic, and when it was over and the announcer mentioned Mackerras as the conductor, I wasn’t surprised. I have the disc, and decided that I should tell you about it. Granted, the ballet from The Perfect Fool may not be a major work, but it is delicious and in Mackerras’ hands it sure sounds like one.
Needless to say this version of The Planets isRead more just as good. It has all of Boult’s naturalness and flow, but with even more ensemble discipline and feeling for color. The climax of Mars, for example, so often an abstract exercise is dissonant texture, sounds really violent and menacing here (sound clip). Venus is coolly beautiful, but never static. Mercury flies by gracefully, and the big tunes in Jupiter sound, well, humorously chubby–there’s no other way to describe them. Saturn creeps along with painful deliberation; Uranus has plenty of bravura showmanship, and Neptune’s icy calm evaporates atmospherically.
In short, this is a great disc, very impressively recorded, and the only question is why no one ever mentions it when listing the best recordings of this music.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Reviewing Virgin 791457 Read less
Works on This Recording
The Planets, Op. 32/H 125by Gustav Holst Conductor:
Sir Charles Mackerras
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir Women
Period: 20th Century Written: 1914-1916; England Date of Recording: 06/1988 Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England Length: 49 Minutes 4 Secs.
The Perfect Fool, Op. 39/H 150: Ballet Musicby Gustav Holst Conductor:
Sir Charles Mackerras
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1918-1922; England Date of Recording: 06/1988 Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England Length: 10 Minutes 57 Secs.