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Penguin Guide, January 2009

David Lloyd-Jones’s reading with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is even finer than Elder’s, more spontaneous-sounding if not always quite so polished. Where Lloyd-Jones scores is in bringing out the contrasted character of each movement, starting with an account of Mars which in its urgency and menace contrasts strongly with the strangely relaxed view of Elder. Mercury is lighter and wittier, Jupiter jollier and Uranus more full of flair. Where Elder has for coupling a rare late work, Lloyd-Jones and Matthews have unearthed a very early work of Holst’s that was never performed, a Scena to a text by Walt Whitman, which may reveal little of Holst’s mature style, but which is colourful and atmospheric and well worth hearing. Full, vivid sound.

Los Angeles Times, November 2002

The obvious hook for this release is "Pluto," Cohn Matthews' fascinating, recently composed appendix to Hoist's "The Planets," that takes over where Hoist left off in "Neptune." Despite Matthews' dissonant idiom, the supplement makes sense; it conjures up images of meteor bombardments, swirling solar winds and other effects that suggest a plunge into the unknown terrors and splendors of outer space. This is the second recording of Pluto but the first at a bargain price, and it is fortuitously attached to an outstanding performance of the original "Planets," astutely paced, full of vehemence and mystery, superbly recorded. You also get an early Hoist rarity, "The Mystic Trumpeter," an 18-minute set ting of Walt Whitman's words that looks backward to Wagner and forward to "The Planets." For those who don't mind a challenge to tradition, this is a must- buy.

Gerald S. Fox
American Record Guide, October 2002

"The Planets, as we know and have loved it for years, is given a fine performance here. 'Mars' is savage, 'Venus' gentle and lyrical, and 'Mercury' properly fleet. 'Jupiter' is joyous and bracing, 'Saturn' fittingly sounds like a creaky processional, but with a terrifying climax in mid-section and a lovely Debussian ending; 'Uranus' is humorous, but with fantastic timpani-led dramatic interjections. The start of the Walt Whitman poem is basically an ode to love, and its conclusion is one of the most poetic, humanistic expressions I have ever read. The strangely beautiful, distant-sounding fanfares are marvelously atmospheric. Soprano Claire Rutter has a lovely voice and sings with all the passionate expression that the poem requires. A very rewarding release."

Michael Oliver
International Record Review, June 2002

"A super-budget price rival to Mark Elder's recent recording of The Planets and a real rival in three senses: it is stirring and splendidly played, it includes Collin Matthew's striking appendix to Holst's suite and it adds a rarity that this composer's admirers will want to investigate. Here the new Naxos has a distinct edge."

Steve Koenig
La Folia, June 2002

Wonderful stuff. If you like Elgar's Sea Pictures, this is less lush but as rich.

R.D., April 2002

"L-J's Planets are by and large the best I've heard since CDs were launched two decades ago with a self-serving nudge by Karajan. I'm not jettisoning Handley, but with this "Pluto" for reference by Lloyd-Jones there is no need to keep Elder, despite genteel recording and some of contemporary Britain's best orchestral playing by the Halle...Lloyd-Jones and Naxos add the still more neglected Mystic Trumpeter, an 18?-minute "scena" for soprano and orchestra in a version edited by Matthews and the composer's late daughter Imogen. Sung thrillingly by Claire Rutter - surely a name we'll hear more frequently in the future - it is the best setting of Walt Whitman by three generations of British composers, beginning not with VW's interminable A Sea Symphony but this work by Holst dating from 1899-1904. No American has composed a nobler homage... "

Tiger Hashimoto
San Francisco Examiner, April 2002

"Here is Naxos doing its best gig - giving us a solid performance of a famous piece of music at a bargain price and then throwing in an irresistible bonus."

David Hurwitz, April 2002

"On the whole, David Lloyd-Jones and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra turn in a more satisfying and characterful performance of The Planets plus Pluto than we heard on Hyperion's disc containing the latter's premiere... Actually, what makes this disc worth owning isn't The Planets, but The Mystic Trumpeter, a gorgeous Whitman setting for soprano and orchestra that deserves far more attention on disc than it has received to date. Claire Rutter delivers the text with excellent diction and generally lovely tone...Naxos earns the thanks of all Holst fans for reviving this neglected work in such an impressive performance."

Stephen Johnson
BBC Music Magazine, April 2002

"This is... the most impressive performance of The Planets I've heard for quite a while. The RSNO is on excellent form, and David Lloyd-Jones controls the pacing and brings out the character of each movement with exceptional skill. 'Mars' is urgent and compelling, 'Jupiter' has grandeur without inflation, the humour of 'Uranus' is suitably dark, and even the pallid central section of 'Venus' comes across rather well. Best of all is 'Saturn' (the movement Holst himself liked best) which builds slowly but inexorably to a cathartic climax then melts into luminous stillness. Added to this is a fine performance of The Mystic Trumpeter -- perhaps the finest of Holst's long-neglected early works."

Ivan Hewitt The Times
Play Magazine, March 2002

"The Mystic Trumpeter, a wonderfully romantic setting of Walt Whitman's poem."

CNNMoney, March 2002

"English composer Colin Matthews saw fit to provide the galactic update several years ago with an eighth movement, Pluto, the Renewer, which has been performed in Scotland a couple of times and is available on this disc featuring the Royal Scottish National Orchetra and David Lloyd-Jones... More intriguing is the first-ever recording of Holst's The Mystic Trumpter, and opulent Wagnerian scenes for soprano and orchestra, seductively sung by Clare Rutter."

Colin Clarke
MusicWeb International

"Here is Naxos's [...] account of "The Planets", with Colin Matthews's "Pluto" [...]. That the Naxos recording range is wide is not in question, but it does seem to be that bit too wide: if indeed one is to hear the opening of "Mars" and leave the volume control unattended, I can only hope for benevolent neighbours! Perhaps the interpretative problem with this Bringer of War is his strategy: too fast a basic pulse means an unrelenting battering, not an ominous and inevitable demise.

There is much to admire in the orchestral playing later, though: "Saturn" is well sustained, and despite the lack of a certain amount of swagger, "Uranus" becomes impressive later on because of Lloyd-Jones's intent on bringing out Holst's wilder side. Listen also to the delicate, silken (rather than thin) violins in "Venus".

The chorus is integral to "Neptune" (Holst's last completed movement for 'his' solar system) and [...] so to the possibly contentious 'final' movement, "Pluto" by Colin Matthews. The listener is plunged in to an immediately and recognisably different world (if you'll pardon the pun). This Pluto is, appropriately, icier and more inhospitable: Matthews is able (possibly by chronological placement) to enter into more forbidding terrain than Holst. The sudden (re-entry of the chorus at the end makes a textural link back to the original (why only on the fourth listening does it sounds contrived to this reviewer?), but not before Matthews's own, dramatic and more modern language has made itself felt at the climaxes. There appears to be an ominous, "Mars"-like rumbling present, just below the surface: all planets are, after all, part of the same solar system and are therefore inextricably linked.

The coupling on this Naxos disc is The Mystic Trumpeter, a 1904 setting of (most of) a poem by Walt Whitman. If you would like to compare Holst's selected text with the complete original, reprints to whole poem. Claire Rutter, the soprano soloist, bravely takes the piece on and emerges, if not triumphant, certainly impressively. The main problem seems to be that she cannot engage with the ecstatic, exultant, youthful Holst (the orchestra under Lloyd-Jones are much more successful in this). Her voice tends towards the shrill above forte, a shame as there is so much to admire elsewhere: the real arrival-point within piano at the word "Paradise" the way she can float a high note. I for one would have been happier with a less piercing exultation of Love (lines 39-42 of the original poem, 24-27 of Holst's text) and more security from the high violins in the final meditation on Joy, but nevertheless this emerges as an impressive achievement.

Recommended then, if only to hear The Mystic Trumpeter within easy reaching distance of Matthews's 'Pluto'. "

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