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Holst: Die Planeten - The Planets; Suite Fur Orchester Und F

Holst: Die Planeten - The Planets; Suite Fur Orchester Und F

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Seven musical character images – each one immensely sensual and expressive, and standing on its own like a monument. The British composer Gustav Holst, fascinated by (esoteric) astrology, chose the planets of our solar system and the characteristics attributed to them as the basis for what he referred to as musical "mood pictures" or "embodiments". Ultimately, the seven movements of his orchestral suite “The Planets”, op. 32, composed between 1914 and 1916, can also be understood as general explorations of human traits. The work had not been performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for almost three decades when, on February 25, 2022, the British conductor Daniel Harding brought it back to Munich’s concert audience in the Herkulessaal of the Residenz, and with great success.


Daniel Harding obtains from his gem of an orchestra a superbly varied performance from his Munich musicians: martially dramatic for Mars, rapturously lyrical for Venus, nimbly agile for Mercury, playful and grand for Jupiter, obstinately moody for Saturn, surreptitiously sardonic for Uranus, evanescently decrescendoing for Neptune.

-- All About the Arts

For those with a keen interest in Holst’s extraordinary score, this new Harding version is well worth a listen, for it offers both sterling sonics and a unique perspective on the music.

-- Classical Candor

Every time I find out that an imminent release of a new recording of the splendid orchestral suite The Planets by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is coming out, I can’t wait to hear it. Not only is it a dazzling orchestral tour de force, but each and every one of its seven highly picturesque movements evoke a wide spectrum of emotions, imagery and chimera. Holst’s intent was to summon, through musical means, each planet’s astrological temperament. I believe that he also subconsciously captured their individual physical scope, energy and distance within our solar system.

In this ‘live’ recording, conductor Daniel Harding sets a much slower pace than usual [in "Saturn"] which perfectly suits the planet’s slow and ponderous journey through space since time immemorial (it takes Saturn over 29 years to orbit the sun). It also well grapples with life’s unremitting march towards death. What has always impressed me about Holst’s masterful writing here is near the end. Not only does he perfectly capture a soul’s transfiguration after death, but also sets the imagery of a massive celestial object wandering effortlessly through space, as if suspended by a mysterious force. I’ve never heard this perceivable impression come across as well as it does in this recording. And the Uranus, The Magician which follows truly sounds like the malicious wizard it is. Again, Harding sets the ideal tempo and sound within Neptune, The Mystic where, in my opinion, the very ending has never been projected as well as it is in this performance. The ever so slowly fading female choir at the end superbly evokes the imagery of a planet slowly drifting away in the darkness of deep space.

The gentle, rocking cradle effect of Venus, The Bringer of Peace is well depicted here. And the woodwind players deserve plaudits for their light and mercurial (pun intended) delivery of Mercury, The Messenger, especially at the end when the planet quickly slips out of sight behind the sun. For Mars, The Bringer of War conductor Daniel Harding once again sets a slightly slower forward momentum than most which benefits this planet’s relentless martial onslaught. Starting around the 3:45 mark he sets a menacing tone to the music appropriate to its antagonistic nature. It’s a well known fact that everyone’s favorite movement from the suite is Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity. Harding sets a regal tone and tempo to its central march, and an uplifting and brilliant candor to its powerful coda.

For a ‘live’ recording, the audio engineering captures the wide dynamic range of the music, and clearly projects every instrument from the celesta to the pipe organ. This solar system belongs on your sound system…Recommended!

-- Classical Music Sentinel

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: BR Klassik
    • UPC/Barcode: 4035719002089
    • Item Number: BRK900208