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The Planets / Pluto / Asteriods [Enhanced]

Colin Matthews , Kaija Saariaho , Matthias Pintscher , Mark-Anthony Turnage , Brett Dean , Gustav Holst , Simon Rattle , Berlin Philharmonic Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Colin Matthews, Kaija Saariaho, Matthias Pintscher, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Brett Dean, et al.
  • Audio CD (September 12, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000H80LEK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,048 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Mars, The Bringer Of War
2. Venus, The Bringer Of Peace
3. Mercury, The Winger Messenger
4. Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity
5. Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age
6. Uranus, The Magician
7. Neptune, The Mystic
8. Pluto, The Renewer
Disc: 2
1. Asteroid 4179: Toutatis
2. Towards Osiris
3. Ceres
4. Komarov's Fall

Editorial Reviews

Is it chance or serendipity that Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic timed their new recording of Holst's The Planets to coincide with the current astronomical upheaval? Though Holst learned of the discovery of Pluto four years before he died, it probably did not occur to him to add another movement, especially since the work's last section, "Neptune, the Mystic," ends in an other-worldly, ethereal fade-out, enhanced by an off-stage wordless women's chorus. He would have been surprised by the latest development in Pluto's status, but undoubtedly pleased that his ultimately incomplete Suite-- which had become more popular than he had expected or thought it deserved--had inspired another British composer, Colin Matthews, to write a successful companion piece, "Pluto, the Renewer," in 2000. Moreover, the Berlin Philharmonic added to Holst's galaxy by commissioning four composers to write a movement each for a Suite called "Asteroids." This is its premiere recording.

The idea of "music of the spheres" goes back to antiquity; perhaps the most famous example of its influence is the slow movement of Beethoven's second "Rasumovsky" String Quartet. Holst gives each of his planets its mythological characteristics: "Mars" is forcefully war-like, "Venus" melodiously peaceful; "Mercury" is a fleet, skittish Scherzo, "Jupiter" rambunctious but suddenly songful. "Saturn" is a soft, solemn march, and "Uranus" murmurs and glitters. The work's most striking element is the scoring. A huge orchestra produces enormous contrasts (underlined by the recording), incredibly colorful sound effects and lush, dense, sonorities, with a lot of melodic doubling and undulating accompanying figures. The sound-world of the "Asteroids" is also based on instrumental colors and effects: whispers, shimmers, crashes and extreme registers. All this is just right for this virtuoso orchestra. Edith Eisler

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy musical view of space that eschews bombast April 23, 2007
Format:Audio CD
This recording will forever be remembered as the commodity that arrived simultanous with Pluto being decertified as a planet in 2006. It appears this was more happenstance than providence or marketing plan by DG since Simon Rattle's notes indicate he made these concert recordings after not conducting "The Planets" for more than 20 years. His notes also indicate his desire to include the second recording of Colin Matthews' "Pluto".

This concert (some call it "live") recording of "The Planets" strikes me as geared more to musical values than bombast, perhaps being more studied than necessary, and/or executed more for refinement than grandiloquence. Whichever one you subscribe to, I think you get the point -- this recording won't compete with those that go for broke boastfully and/or emotionally but it works on the same level as Claudio Abbado's famous Vienna Philharmonic version of Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony: it makes music where many others make noise.

My personal favorite recording of "The Planets" is Adrian Boult's 1950s-era mono recording with the London Philharmonic (then called the Promenade Philharmonic) that once arrived on a $1.99 Westminster LP and was wretchedly engineered in fake stereo. That recording is still available in good mono via a Haydn House burn of pretty good quality, made from the LP where you can still hear an occasional rough patch of the needle.

Where Rattle's 2006 recording sets a somewhat stodgy pace so you can hear every instrument and every turn of the score, Boult's old recording goes full speed ahead with the largest possible voice most of the time, made from an aural perspective at the podium. The two recordings do not actually compete with each other; I find each has qualities I enjoy.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Space Junk September 27, 2006
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Rattle disappoints in a perfunctory reading of one of the most familar of concert warhorses. Mars is a bit "oogie-boogie" scary, not terrifying. Venus sulks in a warm bath of ultra-rubato. Rattle himself seems slightly embarrassed by the great central hymn of Jupiter, calling it "a nostalgic look at an England that never existed - the England of cricket fields and warm beer and bad cooking". Well, then - guess that shows US. But the most egregrious offense is cobbling together unwanted bits to, in Rattle's own words, "make a calling card for the orchestra". (Wow, that's ego for you! The Berlin Philharmonic needs a "calling card", and this dweeb is the guy to give it to them? Oh, brother!!!!) It's really just make-work for a group of completely unrelated compositional styles and the results are underwhelming in the extreme. It's bad enough that Pluto has been "downgraded" from planetary status - it now has to suffer the insult of being tagged "The Renewer" (for entirely obscure reasons) and having a tacky, alternately whispy and annoying six-minute noise-bomb associated with it. (The composer, Colin Matthews, is far better known as the producer of the Nonesuch recording of the Gorecki Third Symphony than as an orchestral composer.) Adding this piece after the ephemeral fade-out of Neptune makes as much sense as sticking chrome-plated plastic arms on the Venus d'Milo.

None of the other bits (specially commissioned, and boy do they sound like it) would make it on their own merits. As a bonus: there's a 10-minute video of Rattle discussing all this, but even that wears its welcome out quickly, too. (Hubble photos mixed with film of Rattle wearing the world's baggiest shirt match the uneven tone of this entire package.)

I give it three stars for curiosity value only.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT SOUND, GREAT PLAYING: CHALLENGING COUPLINGS September 20, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Current scientific thinking seems to have relegated Pluto from the list of fully-fledged planets in our Solar System. It might have been better if these discs had followed received opinion and moved Colin Matthews Pluto to the second disc of other Plutons. It is a fine and interesting piece in its own right, but it completely destroys Holst's planned, considered and magical fade-out to Neptune with the female chorus's eternally alternating chords disappearing into the farthest reaches of space.

That said, this is an enterprising pair of discs. Most people will obviously buy them for the Holst work but the new works, specially commissioned by Rattle (apart from Pluto) for this project, are an interesting collection of Plutons and a substantial bonus. Saariaho's Toutatis is the most impressive: she seems to have listened to and assimilated Holst's Planets and filtered them through her own refined orchestral sensibilities. The result is a delicate piece with evocative woodwind textures that structurally reflects the complex orbit of the asteroid after which it is named. The Pintscher is a more overtly exciting item with a wonderfully played virtuoso trumpet cadenza. Mark Anthony Turnage's Ceres is perhaps more familiar territory with its jazzy syncopations and woodwind colourings typical of the composer. Brett Dean, an ex-viola player with the orchestra, contributes Komarov's Fall which has an arch structure leading to and from a big climax, but maybe overstays its welcome a touch. The second disc also includes some CD-ROM material to play on your computer - well produced but it might have benefited from a little less chat and a bit more of the rehearsal sequence.

But what of the main work which will, after all, be the chief reason to purchase for most people?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The origin
This symphony is the basis for all modern (action) movies sound tracks. Ok, some purists might disagree, and the movie The Right Stuff is the most obvious one. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Accidental Tourist
3.0 out of 5 stars A War Horse Well Done
I hadn't listened to "The Planets" in quite a while. Now that I have, I'm surprised at what an old war horse it is - though I credit another reviewer for using the term... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robert B. Lamm
5.0 out of 5 stars Hoist: The Planets...Rattle.
One of my favorites and I would recommend it to my friends, which I already have. I have given this as a gift several times.
Published 11 months ago by marilyee
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic. Well recorded.
This is a very musical rendition of this classic. You don't have to be much of a classical music fan to appreciate this. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Peter Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars When the Planets are all about space
The Planets is one of those works that has received so much fame it is almost unbelievable. There are so many recordings of it that one almost becomes dizzy looking for a good... Read more
Published on October 19, 2010 by Andrew R. Barnard
2.0 out of 5 stars Big names produce lacklustre results
A website, a "making-of"enhanced CD feature, a rave review in Gramophone (it is Rattle, after all) - expectations for this issue are highly strung. Read more
Published on September 29, 2006 by MartinP
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Recording
In short this is the best recording since Karajan's 1981 recording on DG

The orchestra plays without fault...the ensemble is so clean it is amazing.
Published on September 24, 2006 by R. G. Hales
5.0 out of 5 stars The solar system keeps expanding
It was a clever idea to expand Holst's ever-popular The Planets to include five new pieces that extend the solar system beyond Neptune, the ghostly last movement, to Pluto and... Read more
Published on September 19, 2006 by Santa Fe Listener
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