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Holst: The Planets

4.8 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 10, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

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Charles Dutoit often sounds better on disc than he does live. The reason for this is simple: he loves to play to the audience, and the result is all kinds of wild gesticulating that the orchestra knows perfectly well to ignore. Sometimes they ignore him completely, to the peril of the performance at hand. In the studio, however, there is no audience and the conductor is free to focus on the music. Dutoit has a real affection for The Planets and his performance is vital, insightful, and recorded in resplendent digital sound. The Montreal Symphony has a particularly powerful trombone section, which adds just that extra drop of energy to "Mars,"Jupiter," and "Saturn." A fine disc. --David Hurwitz
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Product Details

  • Performer: Le Choeur des Femmes de L'Orchestre de M
  • Orchestra: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Charles Dutoit
  • Composer: Gustav Holst
  • Audio CD (July 10, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: London / Decca
  • ASIN: B0000041S7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,642 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karl W. Nehring on July 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD
The two conductors take similar tempi in most of the movements (the main difference being in "Venus," where Dutoit is noticeably slower, but I did not find that to make as big a difference in my enjoyment of the movement as I thought it might when I read the timings. Both versions have their virtues, although neither matches Karajan for sheer beauty) and the sound quality of both recordings is exemplary. The RCA (engineered by Tony Faulkner using "24-bit technology" [which we will assume refers to the technical specs, not the cost]) is slightly warmer and more distant in sound than the London recording (engineered by John Dunkerley with, presumably, 16-bit equipment), but the difference is not a great one. Both recordings, by the way, do especially well by the organ pedals, and will give subwoofer owners reason to smile.

So what can I really say? The Dutoit has held off all challengers for more than a decade now. To mention just a few of the major contenders, the EMI Previn has that slight touch of distortion that I was never able to completely listen around either on LP or CD (but others rave about--to each his or her own, I guess), the Telarc Previn is tremendous in terms of sound quality but the performance is a bit bland, the DGG Levine/Chicago reading had its exciting moments but was a bit too sloppy overall, and the DGG Gardiner just sounded too bright to these ears.

The Slatkin is the first recording/performance combination to equal the Dutoit overall in my experience. I very slightly prefer the sound of the Slatkin, but I also very slightly prefer the vocal sonority of the women's choir on the Dutoit in the last movement to the children's choir on the Slatkin.
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Format: Audio CD
I have heard numerous versions of this great classical work, but I always come back to this one. Dutoit's interpretation is perfect. The balance between all the sections of the orchestra is superb and the recording quality is first rate. Very highly recommended!
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Format: Audio CD
Considering that this recording of Holst's most popular works is among a pioneer in digital recordings, it still outshines rival versions. Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra have a natural feeling for mood, rhythm and colour that transpire into the "Planets Suite" that have stood up through the years. The inspiration for "Planets Suite" started with just the simple facination Holst had with astrology that would transcend into music that never existed in english music before and is undoubtedly the most famous of large scale compositions and deservely so because it's a masterpiece in imagination.
Earth being excluded and Pluto yet not discovered, the seven planets would bare original character traits associated with the planets. Mars, the bringer of war starts off thunderously. Venus, the bringer of peace a nostalgic glance with his infatuation with Wagner. Mercury, the winged messenger submerged completely in impressionism, everything is dabs and dashes of sounds. Jupiter, the bringer of jollity, Holst's love of english folksong and dance would be adapted for a patriotic hymn. Saturn, the bringer of old age a procession that winds unrelentlessly. Uranus, the magician a nightmarish version of Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Neptune, the mystic is pure impressionism, a blank picture, all atmosphere...one of the most awe inspiring intimations of the infinite. It ends hauntingly with the receding voices of the Montreal's women chorus.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm not a criticist and this is my first review, sorry if my English is no perfect, it's not my main language.
I've hear several recordings of the planets :

This one (almost perfect)
Adrian Boult recording (not my favourite)
Karajan (Ack!)
And some others (Mehta,Previn,Levine..)

I absolutely love this recording.

Mars feels just right,Venus is beautiful (one of the passages i use to rate the planets is the solo violins of Venus,so delicate on this version..), Mercury and Neptune(i always thisnk i'm in a spaceship when i hear Neptune, and with this recording i'm there) are fantastic.

I still think that there is a best Jupiter out there : Sir Neville Marriner with the Royal Concertgebow Orchestra (hear it, really, its perfect, it's the one with Pomp and Circumstance Marches 1 and 4 on the CD)

Overall this is the best recording of the Planets, and if i had to have only one it will be this one.

Thanks for your attention.
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Like many of the reviewers, I agree that this is an essential recording of The Planets and if you are going to have only one, get this one and you're all set. The reading truly is "celestial" as another reviewer stated. The balance, phrasing and emotional playing make this a complete performance. There is another recording which is not as complete but has some startling sections and that's the James Levine/Chicago Symphony release on DG. There's no arguing CSO has the best brass ensemble in the world and listening to Saturn will frighten you.
Holst: The Planets

Just a note about the sonics. Even though this is an early CD release, it's remarkably warm and was made years prior to the volume wars in today's mastering. I'm sure this will be remastered at some point but hold onto this one until you hear it.
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