The Neptune movement is conspicuously faster than in his earlier EMI version, but without sounding in any way perfunctory. Mercury also whips along. Boult is not the only conductor to distinguish himself: André Previn and the LSO, during their halcyon days, turn in a wonderful performance of the ballet music from his failed opera The Perfect Fool, alternately boisterously rollicking and ethereally magical.
But if I had to nominate one work to hear on this masterly anthology, it would be Egdon Heath, subtitled “Homage to Hardy”. In the almost continuous soft playing, Previn and co. evoke perfectly the sense of haunting loneliness in the place Hardy himself described as “singularly colossal and mysterious in its swarthy monotony.”
The other discoveries are three of the Sanskrit hymns the composer set from the Rig Veda, which make me wonder whether any other composer “does” the mystical and otherworldly as well as Holst. Sir Charles Groves, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Norman Del Mar and Imogen Holst also make valuable contributions to this invaluable collection.