4. Sir Malcolm Sargent, BBC Symphony Orchestra, 1958

Holst - The Planets (Sargent, BBC Symphony Orchestra, 1958)


This “Mars” is fabulous. It powers along, mowing down anything in its path. It’s relentless. If I was the kind of guy who jumped out of his seat at the end of a performance and yelled “Bravo!”, there’s a fair chance I would have jumped out of my seat and yelled “Bravo!”.

“Venus” is close to perfect.

“Mercury” is splendid.

“Jupiter” has as much joie de vivre as you could possibly imagine – and with a heart-meltingly-played Big Tune in the middle (2:55-4:46). It made me cry. The sound quality’s not much chop in this movement (it’s better in the other movements), and a horn plays a dodgy note at 5:25, but – and this is a big “but” – you can hear the love for the music shine in every note. This is glorious music-making.

“Saturn”‘s Old Age is supremely dignified.

“Uranus” is especially mischievous (and played wonderfully, apart from an “oops” moment at 4:11 when a trumpeter plays a stray note – mischief!).

And “Neptune” is just… Well, I can’t really describe it. “Neptune” is exactly how I want it to be.

Thank you, Big Mal. Twenty-five thumbs up for these Planets.


8 thoughts on “4. Sir Malcolm Sargent, BBC Symphony Orchestra, 1958

  1. Zardoz September 15, 2016 / 7:54 am

    I believe this is the version Space:1999’s music editor – a brilliant guy named Alan Willis – chose to use in the episode “Space Brain” (my first exposure to Holst as a kid). Excellent choice! I’ve been disappointed by most other version of “Mars” as a result ever since – not surprised to see it ranked so highly, and makes me want to check out the rest of this disc.


    • Peter September 15, 2016 / 8:51 am

      I reckon Alan Willis has impeccable taste in Planets recordings. I don’t think you can go past this “Mars” (it wouldn’t let you).

      Thanks, Zardoz, for reminding my of Space: 1999. I loved that show when I was a kiddy. (I was 14 when it first aired in 1975.)

      Incidentally, the “Space Brain” episode is on YouTube:

      “Mars” appears at 4:38.

      If you want some advice on checking out the rest of the disc, my general advice is: Do it now! It’s tremendously magnificent. (It’s also magnificently tremendous.)

      I can help you out in the listening-to-all-of-it department, and was going to send you an email about it, but I have a feeling the email address you supplied is not entirely real. If you do want to hear the entire disc, let me know via email (pmrscott@tpg.com.au). My name is Peter, and I’m here to help.


  2. wonderboy September 20, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    this is a stereo recording from the 50th, but the sound is pretty godd for that age. the performance is outstanding.


  3. Dan October 11, 2017 / 6:53 am

    I think it would benefit your site to include catalog numbers.


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