Friday, April 15, 2011

Palmer does Holst

Don't miss Tony Palmer's grand-scale exploration of Gustav Holst's life and work, In the Bleak Midwinter, to be screened on BBC4 on Easter Sunday and released on DVD the next day. Apart from the revelations about his nature and beliefs which are outlined in my piece about the film in today's Independent (read it here), it contains extracts from The Planets - which, wouldn't you know it, wasn't originally about planets at all - played by the Savaria Orchestra from Hungary, conducted by Tamas Vasary. The orchestra apparently used to be the Hungarian State Somethingorother - it moved cities and changed its name - and they'd never played a note of good old 'Mars' before. Frankly, my dears, you've never heard anything like what they do with it. Tony says he felt "pinned to the wall" by their intensity. And all they're playing is...exactly what Holst asked for in the score. The article has been somewhat chopped, so I may run the Director's Cut here at some stage.