CLASSICAL MUSIC / Double Play: Lost in space

HOLST: The Planets; Egdon Heath - BBC SO / Andrew Davis (Teldec 4509-94541-2)

POOR Holst: labelled a one-work composer, and that one work played virtually to death. We badly need a recording to show again what an astonishingly original piece The Planets is, both a dazzling orchestral showcase and an unsettling reflection of an age of change and decay. If Davis and the BBC SO had matched their recent triumphs with Vaughan Williams's Sixth Symphony and Delius's Paris, this could have been a valuable release. Instead it's all rather low-key: Mars is sound but not much fury, Venus is pallid, Jupiter is too staid to be jolly, and Neptune seems thoroughly insulated against any kind of other-worldly chill.

The playing is more than competent, the recording clear (if a little unatmospheric) and the overdubbing of the King's College organ (Davis at the console) skilful, but it doesn't quite come to life. Surprisingly, the eerily reticent Egdon Heath - rarely a success in concert - emerges more successfully. A disc of neglected Holst might have been a better idea - at least the orchestra would have come to it fresh. But I suppose it's The Planets that sells.

Stephen Johnson

IT'S the mystery more than the certainty of our solar system that brings out the best in Davis. His Venus is possessed of a silvery, remote beauty; Saturn brings on the advancing years with pitiless inevitability, ruthlessly clean brass chordings at the climax; and Neptune's 'voices' advance and recede from another galaxy, the final fade as effective as I've ever heard it on record. I'm less excited by the extrovert elements. I've heard more unforgiving accounts of the Red Planet, and Jupiter, bringer of jollity, has come empty-handed. Too much English reserve. And where's the mischief beyond the gaudy colours of Uranus? Egdon Heath is bleak and secretive, superbly realised - another planet.

Edward Seckerson

HOLLOWAY: Violin and Horn Concertos - Kovacic, Tuckwell, SCO / Matthias Bamert (Collins 14392)

WHILE neither of these pieces packs the punch of the recently recorded Second Concerto for Orchestra (NMC), the Violin Concerto is just as fascinating, its successes just as hard to explain. On the face of it, both works look backward - the Violin Concerto to the Faure song it takes as its starting- point, the Horn Concerto to the anachronistic but glorious lyricism of late Strauss - yet the results are unmistakably modern. Unlike our more nave conservatives, Robin Holloway knows that the past is another country, and he's a subtle ironist; but he loves that past too, and allows us sometimes to forget the distance. The violinist Ernst Kovacic has enough experience of ripe romanticism and troubled modernism to be at home with both facets; Barry Tuckwell, in the Horn Concerto, is more straightforward, expressively speaking, but that seems to suit the piece. Already I feel like going back and exploring further. SJ

HOLLOWAY's music is full of familiarities. You've passed this way before, but nothing looks quite the same. Holloway can absorb a style, recycle specific melodies and harmonies, and still evade charges of receiving stolen goods. In some respects he's a contradiction in terms: a forward-looking reactionary. His Violin Concerto is an effusive, seductive piece of work in beautiful, crystalline scoring. You don't have to pre-read the liner notes to know that glass figures somewhere in the equation: the play of light, reflected and refracted, is a key element; magic casements afford fascinating views. The character is scherzando-like, full of balletic grace, poised on some Viennese threshold. Childhood innocence, the Alban Berg Concerto? Just so. Only instead of a Bach chorale, Holloway's revelation is a Faure song, a magical moment where we're suddenly looking in on the piece, not out from it. Kovacic plays with relish and brilliance. As does Tuckwell in the Horn Concerto. Richard Strauss is Holloway's first cousin here. A jaunty, portly, sometimes rosy neo- classicism crossed with pint-sized Heldenleben heroics. There's a healthy flippancy in the mix, but a darker purpose, too: that's where Tuckwell pulls out the special effects from his predatory lower register. ES

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices