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Holst: The Planets
The Classical Shop
release date: October 2000
Originally recorded in 2000
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Sir Alexander Gibson
Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow
Robert Matthew Walker
Orchestral & Concertos
Total Time - 52:13
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The Planets, Op. 32
Suite for large orchestra
Mars - The Bringer of War
Venus - The Bringer of Peace
Mercury - The Winged Messenger
Jupiter - The Bringer of Jollity
Saturn - The Bringer of Old Age
Uranus - The Magician
Neptune - The Mystic
with women's voices of the RSNO Chorus
Sir Alexander Gibson
2-3 July 1979
Sir Alexander Gibson conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in this majestic, vibrant recording.
Although one of the most popular and frequently recorded British works ever written, this particular recording remains a benchmark by which many others are judged.
This was Chandos’ first digital recording and one of the first commercial digital recordings ever.
The Planets, composed between 1914 and 1916, would bring Holst celebrity in the early 1920s. By the age of fifty-nine he was dead and had only just reached the height of his powers. Much of his music was destined to be forgotten and The Planets conspired to keep his popularity alive and became one of the most popular British works in the orchestral repertoire. Holst worked slowly and because of neuritis in his right arm he was helped by a varied team of amanuenses, mainly former students of St Paul’s School where he taught for most of his life. The orchestra he uses is large, reflecting the new music he was hearing of Ravel, Debussy and Stravinsky.
‘Mars - The Bringer of War’ with its alternating 5/4 and 5/2 rhythms, further disrupted by triplet interjections, is notable for its immense climaxes. Despite its violence, it was sketched before the outbreak of war.
‘Venus - The Bringer of Peace’ establishes a context by using no brass of percussion and creates a mood of limpid calm. ‘Mercury - The Winged Messenger’ is in essence a vivacious scherzo – quick silver and fleet of foot – in which the heavier instruments are missing. ‘Jupiter - The Bringer of Jollity’: nobility and generosity are characteristics of those born under this sign, ably reflected in its melody and orchestration.
‘Saturn - The Bringer of Old Age’ reveals a marked contrast; a cold, damp, desolate vista. This is Holst in his most personal and eloquent frame of mind. ‘Uranus - The Magician’: the influence of Uranus gives ‘eccentric and abrupt’ and ‘unexpected’ traits. The movement builds into a thundering climax which then as if by magic suddenly disappears. ‘Neptune - The Mystic’ is a study in pianissimo and a remarkable example of Impressionism in musical terms. A wordless female chorus joins to heighten the effect. Holst asks them to be placed in an adjoining room, the door to be slowly and silently closed at the end.
‘…this really is by far the most desirable, both from the standpoint of performance and recording.’
American Record Guide
‘The fullness, bloom and natural balance on the Chandos issue put it ahead…’
‘…probably the finest thing this conductor has done on record.’
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