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Holst: The Planets

Gustav Holst , James Levine , Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Price: $11.88 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
  • Conductor: James Levine
  • Composer: Gustav Holst
  • Audio CD (May 10, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GCZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,945 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Planets, Op. 32: Mars, The Bringer Of War
2. The Planets, Op. 32: Venus, The Bringer Of Peace
3. The Planets, Op. 32: Mercury, The Winged Messenger
4. The Planets, Op. 32: Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity
5. The Planets, Op. 32: Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age
6. The Planets, Op. 32: Uranus, The Magician
7. The Planets, Op. 32: Neptune, The Mystic

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance - minor complaint December 6, 2006
Format:Audio CD
The Planets suite is quite a thing of beauty. This recording made by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of James Levine, is quite good. The powerful, brassy sound other reviewers have spoke of is obvious here and it works perfectly. My only gripe is not really a bad thing. The dynamic range on this disc is tremendous. I often am forced to listen to music at levels which won't get me evicted from my apartment. In doing so, I have found that the piano or pianissimo (or pianississimo) passages are inaudible. It still sounds superb; I just have to crank it up and risk losing my hearing when the brass comes in.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated December 12, 2003
Format:Audio CD
For some incomprehensible reason, this is not singled out as a great performance in most classical music guides, but I think it is. Overall, the tempi feel right and the power of the playing and the quality of the recording are superlative. Of more recent vintage recordings, it is much more exciting than Dutoit and less clinical and calculated than Gardiner. To those looking for a good budget priced recording, I would recommend Lloyd-Jones' performance on Naxos.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a mystical astral tour with Holst's The Planets January 23, 2004
Format:Audio CD
Gustav Holst's "The Planets" (Op. 32) is a seven-movement symphonic poem which describes the "personalities" of most of our celestial neighbors in the solar system. Had Pluto been discovered when Holst was composing this wonderful piece in the early 20th Century, there might have been an eighth movement (perhaps called "The Guardian of the Dead"), but the ninth planet was not discovered until 1930, 12 years after its first rehearsal. No matter. One missing planet doesn't take away from the breathtaking wonder of this very powerful composition.
Holst is not literally describing each planet's physical features, for at the turn of the 20th Century there were no Voyager or Viking probes to send back images from which the composer could derive some inspiration, although I would like to think that some NASA engineer was listening to this music while driving to and from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena as one of our mechanical explorers was making its lonely sojourn across the vast and cold expanses of space. No, Holst was going for the planets as astral metaphors, giving each movement a descriptive title ("Mars, the Bringer of War," for instance) and a particular musical "mood" that is totally unconnected to the others.
James Levine (best known as the Metropolitan Opera's music director) leads the magnificent Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus into a mystical musical tour of the heavens, starting with the belligerent allegro "Mars, the Bringer of War." This movement starts with very tense and brooding music that becomes very martial, almost as if Holst had composed it for the score of a great silent epic depicting the then-ongoing Great War.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST!!!!! January 24, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Levine's recording of this Holst masterpiece should be a staple in every music collection. Not only does it have the gorgeous sound of some of the world's finest string players, but it also has something that every orchestra at that time envied - the warm, rich, powerfull sound of the Chicago brass section. This combination, along with Levine's exceptional understanding of the piece, makes the recording one of the most energetic, exciting, and engaging ones available today.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive recording! April 14, 2005
Format:Audio CD
No orchestra's performance of Holst's Planets possesses the rich colors, the deep sonorities, the brilliant soloists, the heroic power and the sheer emotion of the Chicago Symphony's! The orchestra has proven their musical prowess time and time again and this is hardly and exeption. The strings flow beautifuly and act as a unified and mighty wave and also as a fertile bed of sound. The woodwinds are impeccable and voluptuous. the percussion is sensitive and precise. The mighty Chicago brass outstrips all the world's orchestras once more with this tour de force of majesty and might. The principal trumpet sails effortlessly above the entire ensemble, especially in Mercury and Jupiter, calling out to all mankind to harkon unto God. the horns display both incredible lyricism and a firey power. The trombone section is simply one of the best anywhere and ever. Charles Vernon awakens the dead with his volcanic sound most appearently in Uranus. This is one of the world's greatest orchestras and should be admired. This recording deserves much higher recognition.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The_best_recording_of_The_Planets_to_date January 21, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have 3 other recordings of The Planets in my collection and have heard at least 12 others. Mr. Levine gets everything right here, the dynamics, the balances of the individual melodic lines, the tempos -- everything. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra players are superb as usual. Also, lets not forget the engineers that captured it all -- not just a given. Bravo, all!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, dynamic performance with momentary complaints December 8, 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Holst's 'The Planets' has long been one of my favorite works. With its many styles within the work, it has a lot to offer in terms of listening longevity. I started enjoying classical music at an early age, and while I still appreciate the works of early composers, it's the more intense, dynamic compositions of Holst, Wagner, etc. that have carried on with me and are still regularly in my listening rotation (along with a lot of the modern compositions of Glass, Nyman, Adams, Reich, etc.).

I have to admit that my first introduction to 'The Planets' is the oft-criticized, Maazel-conducted recording on the CBS Masterworks label. While the orchestra's performance on that recording has raised a lot of eyebrows with some listeners, I found the actual reading and interpretation of the Holst work to be one of my favorites, and since my recording of that version was damaged, I've been listening to several recordings to replace it with, and this Levine & Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of several recordings I've been listening to.

As I said, the first 'The Planets' recording I was familiar with was the Maazel recording, with lots of personality, but lacking in quality of the actual performance. The main recording I listened to after that was the Previn/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on the Telarc label. That recording was everything the Maazel reading was not-beautifully performed and technically sound, but lacking the color and dynamic range of the Maazel recording.

Which brings us to this new-to-me Levine/CSO recording on DG. This is a great recording that 'threads the needle' between the Maazel and Previn recordings, bringing both a sound, technically performed rendition along with a lot of dynamics and emotional energy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars more and more of the mind that he is truly one of the finest younger...
08-04-2014 I am, with every new release by James Levine, more and more of the mind that he is truly one of the finest younger conductors the USA has ever produced. Read more
Published 18 days ago by TONY L. ENGLETON CNMT
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
One of the greatest sounding CDs ever made. Levine and Chicago are superb, and DG outdid itself in this recording. This recording may never be eclipsed.
Published 3 months ago by PianoReview
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Best version of Mars, The Bringer of War.

I have heard many different versions, this is the best by far
Published 6 months ago by PETER HARTNETT
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity!
This recording of Holst the Planets is the best I have ever heard. In particular the track of Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity is exceptional. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Susan E. Berger
4.0 out of 5 stars THE CSO'S "OTHER " MUSIC IRECTOR"
12-22-13. FROM ____ TO ____ Cincinnati's favorite son, James Levine, was the boss of the Ravinia Festival held each summer by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Northern Suberb... Read more
Published 8 months ago by NUC MED TECH
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Excellent
An awesome piece of music, full of vitality and energy. Well-composed, well-written, and well-performed. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Matt DeFazio
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Early 20th Century Orchestral Masterpieces I've...
Absolutely a phenomenal piece from the early 20th century to listen to. This is Gustav Holst at his best here. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jacob Ketron
5.0 out of 5 stars definitive?
It is tough to imagine how this piece can be played any better. Levine and Chicago have done some magic with this journey through space. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dr. VK
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful playing and interpretation.
The 'benchmark' recording of The Planets has been the Montreal/Dutiot one. No longer. The sound quality and brass playing really leap out of your speakers, and
the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. K. Davis MD
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in spots...
As noted in many reviews, the brass in this recording are front and center. The CSO brass players overall do a very nice job of bringing out the well-written parts. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lokomat
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Topic From this Discussion
what is the best version of Holst - The Planets?
I'd recommend either Steinberg/BSO, Dutoit/OSM, or Levine/CSO. I haven't heard either of the versions you've mentioned, though. But I own all three of the ones I've mentioned, and like them all.
Jan 7, 2010 by Jerimy Bass |  See all 3 posts
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