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Holst: The Planets; Matthews: Pluto; Four 'Asteroids' [Enhanced]

Gustav Holst , Colin Matthews , Mar-Anthony Turnage , Simon Rattle , Berliner Philharmoniker Audio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Gustav Holst, Colin Matthews, Mar-Anthony Turnage
  • Audio CD (4 Sep 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B000H80LEK
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,418 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. I. Mars, the Bringer of War (Allegro)
2. II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace (Adagio)
3. III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger (Vivace)
4. IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity (Allegro giocoso)
5. V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age (Adagio)
6. VI. Uranus, the Magician (Allegro)
7. VII. Neptune, the Mystic (Andante) [with women's choir]
8. Pluto, The Renewer
Disc: 2
1. The Making of the Planets and Asteroids
2. towards Osiris
3. Ceres
4. Komarov's Fall

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD PLANETS: INTERESTING PLUTONS 20 Sep 2006
By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars (just) for Eight Planets 14 April 2007
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
This was one of my favourite classical pieces as a child and consequently I have a large number of versions in my collection. So what makes this one so special?

It is a dazzling performance - and live too. All credit to the production team, as well, of course, to the performers. Feeling that I know this work inside out, I was amazed at the clarity of the sound: I did hear things that I had not heard so clearly before. Rattle seems to have adopted an upfront approach, giving the instruments more of a soloistic freedom than other interpretations. And yet the sound is not crowded. One result is that the climaxes are more startlingly real and full of power. I have heard 'Mars' countless times, but Rattle's approach brought out the hairs on the back of my neck. I do not begrudge the inclusion of Matthews's 'Pluto': it is a very good work and fits perfectly.

The downside of the wall of sound approach is that the recording lacks subtelty, and that is more important in this work than in many others. Whereas Karajan, for instance, would let the strings at the close of 'Saturn' fade out into tranquil nirvana, Rattle lets them appear to stop dead.

This criticism aside, Rattle earns top points for several instances in the piece where his emphasis is quite radical. I've noticed this before with him - whether it is the jazz influence or something else - he has a forgiveable habit of syncopating the big punch: it seems to come at a point where you did not expect it, and yet it all fits together.

All in all, this is marvellously disciplined interpretation, full of life and vigour and it will not disappoint, which alas is more than one can say about the second disc's contents of 'asteroids'. These are all freshly comissioned so there is in essence no anticipation to be disappointed. The playing is again crisp and clear, but only Turnage's 'Ceres' and Dean's 'Komarov's Fall' elicited from me more than a dull response.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding fresh recording of a masterwork 17 Sep 2006
Format:Audio CD
There is no doubting that most connoisseurs of classics have "The Planets" somewhere in their collections. However, this new recording is not only fresh, it comes with new interpretations and additional suites that now complement the astronomical designations of Planets, Asteroids, and Outer sub-Neptunian objects. At the very time the International Astronomical Union have downgraded beloved Pluto, it has in turn given us new understanding. In a sense, Holst's original scores have done the same and Sir Simon Rattle/Orchestra has pulled off a masterstroke here. The old favourites of Mars and Jupiter quite rightly take centre stage, but the beauty (understated) of Venus is superb here, and the already referred to additional suites provide a marvelous varied selection - just like the Night Sky and Solar System and anything else astronomical. Rattle is a beacon for Britain on the world stage and has again slienced his critics - the conductor is up there with the very very best masters of the baton.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Planets and asteroids, a tribute to Holst 25 July 2008
By Mart TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
The Planets are given a special Sir Simon Rattle / Berliner Philharmoniker treatment with this 2CD recording of Holst's famous composition. The additional works in this project entitled `Ad Astra: Composers in Space' are Colin Matthews' Pluto, plus four musical interpretations of asteroids by contemporary composers.

Many will have their personal favourite recording of The Planets, but it's the additional pieces which make this a fascinating musical interpretation of heavenly bodies. Pluto follows on from Holst's Neptune to complete the Solar System, while the asteroids are icy cold, brittle and agitated representations of what we would expect of celestial bodies which can only offer harm to our planet.

The ten minute video of the making of this project is presented by Sir Simon and includes his comments on the original Planets, plus interviews with each of the asteroid composers and a little bit of orchestral playing of each piece.

What would Holst have thought of this work? Well he cursed the `one hit wonder ` popularity of The Planets, but I think he should be proud of his achievement, not only for the admiration that his most famous work has earned, but also for the inspiration it has provided to his fellow composers to produce musical concepts like this.
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