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Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (b.1931) is the last living survivor of a great Russian quartet of conductors consisting of Mravinsky, Kondrashin and Svetlanov.
He was the highly distinguished principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1978 to 1981, an exciting period in the orchestra’s history faithfully captured here.
During this period, he conducted many British composers, a favourite being Britten (the Russian premiere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Vaughan Williams (a complete cycle on Melodiya), Walton, Elgar, Maxwell Davies (the premiere of Symphony No.2) and John Tavener.
These recordings of Holst’s Planets and Britten’s Variations & Fugue on a Theme of Purcell have never been issued before on CD.
The Planets is new to Rozhdestvensky’s extensive discography. Rozhdestvensky’s 1980 Royal Festival Hall performance is a freshly conceived interpretation of The Planets which is both exciting and superbly played, and the stereo recording has a spectacular dynamic range.
The performance of Britten’s Variations & Fugue on a Theme of Purcell was given on a Far East tour in Osaka, Japan in 1981. Osaka’s Royal Festival Hall has a wonderful natural acoustic which invests each instrument with great clarity and warmth.
Gustav Holst: The Planets, Op. 32
I. Mars, the Bringer of War
II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace
III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger
IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
VI. Uranus, the Magician
VII. Neptune, the Mystic
Benjamin Britten: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell, Op. 34
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell, Op. 34
“Rozhdestvensky's affinity with British music is evident in this marvellously airy, epic Planets and sprightly Variations. Plain broadcast recording sound, but too enjoyable to be merely historic.”