This version of Holst's endearing masterpiece, "The Planets", sounds very good in Naxos' super audio 5.1 technology. I do not have the point one (subwoofer) hooked up in my house and assume, by listening to the recording in 5.0, that the timpani -- which are already very powerful and forward placed -- would be explosive if you listened in 5.1. The sound is very good otherwise, with wide ranging and natural orchestral body and timbre. It is not the best super audio sound I've heard but it is good and a big improvement over the stereo sound on the last version of "The Planets" I purchased, the one Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle released last year.
The performance, by David Lloyd-Jones and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, is one built on extreme contrasts. Lloyd-Jones has done everything in his power to contrast the loudness of the loud sections, such as "Mars", against the quietness of the quieter sections, such as "Venus" and "Saturn". While the timing for each section is in a normal range based on other recordings I have, Lloyd-Jones seems to proceed as a measured pace in the quieter sections because they are nearly silent in the hushed moments.
This makes for exciting contrast in your home, where the power of the opening Mars sequence -- with timpani brought forward by the sound technology -- makes the following Venus section a bit difficult to adjust to. This is not much of a problem when listening at home on a decent super audio stereo setup. However, when you listen in the car, you literally cannot hear the quieter sections. I turned up my car stereo as loud as it would go and still endured long stretches on nothingness that was uniquely frustrating in my experience. This doesn't make it a bad issue, of course, but it means I won't be listening to this one in the car.
The 2008 Penguin Guide reviewed the DVD version of this performance saying it includes Colin Matthews' new "Pluto" movement. The SACD does not include Pluto, so persons buying this CD because of the Penguin Guide's recommendation should take note of this. Both include the makeweight "The Mystic Trumpeter", an early piece recorded once before by David Wilcocks on Lyrita (and recently reissued) that doesn't sound much like Holst; it sounds more like early Mahler, Richard Strauss or perhaps Schreker. Sung by a soprano, the text is by American Walt Whitman. I don't mind Claire Rutter's singing but I can't imagine anyone buying this for "The Mystic Trumpeter."
A page and one-half of outstanding notes by Matthews and full text from the add-on piece in English combine with fine super audio sound and outstanding cover art (it reminds me of the cover art from Boult's mono version that appeared on a Westminster LP in the 1960s)to produce another worthy version of Holst's score. This probably won't replace your favorite but it will be a nice addition to your SACD library and first timers to "The Planets" will like it a lot.