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Universe of Sound - Holst: The Planets; Talbot: Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity (Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen) [Blu-ray] [Region Free] [NTSC]

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Format: Blu-ray, Classical, Multiple Formats, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Signum Classics
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Mar. 2013
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BEF13FQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,716 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Philharmonia Orchestra in a unique performance of Holst's 'The Planets Suite', captured in High Definition by 37 cameras. This immersive experience takes the viewer to the heart of the Philharmonia as they perform this well-loved piece, using cameras placed in a multitude of positions and angles to create an extraordinary glimpse of the orchestra at work from within. As well as 'The Planets', the filmed performances also includes a new commission by UK composer Joby Talbot, 'Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity'. Additional features include a 'Making of' documentary feature, listening guide films for each planet, audio commentaries from conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and principal players of the Philharmonia and, for Blu-Ray only, a picture-in-picture option that allows a simultaneous view of the conductor and orchestra in action. The Philharmonia Orchestra is committed to bringing classical music to new audiences in creative and exciting ways, and to this end has become a technological trailblazer in its adoption and adaptation of new technology. In 2010 the Re-Rite project allowed members of the public to experience Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' for the first time from within the orchestra through audio/visual projections. Their 'Universe of Sound' project from which this release stems debuted at the Science Museum in London last year, and is set to tour the country in new installations during 2013. This blu-ray includes a bonus 'Making of' documentary and listening guides for each planet.

Review

An intensely dramatic performance of Holst s The Planets by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, complemented ideally by Joby Talbot s Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity, features on a technically ground-breaking disc (...) First-rate picture quality ... and sound enhances the viewer s enjoyment still further. --International Record Review

One can also watch the performance with commentaries (...) These insights would be particularly valuable not only to newcomers to the score - who can also access spoken introductions to each movement - but also to professionals...Talbot has great fun with Holst s massive orchestra, to which he adds further instruments (meditation bowls, a massive rack of crotales) and instrumental effects (timpani glissandos, stopped horns and various modern trumpets mutes) to conjure up a grandly impressive movement...There are not many musical works that could stand up to this degree of close scrutiny, but fortunately The Planets is one of them. --MusicWebInternational

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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This was set up for a Science Museum project to highlight what goes on in an orchestra and they couldn't have chosen a better piece than the Planets : with its interesting use of the whole modern symphony orchestra - with tuned percussion, organ, harps and features for every section and many solo parts.

It is one of the most interesting scores to study and I have a facsimile of Holst's original with annotations which is a treasured possession. This Blu Ray sets out to "annotate" a performance with close camera work and microphone placement. The unique feature here is the use of 37 cameras and the chance to see every angle of every section or solo instrument. This means you get a much better view of all the players than you would in a normal concert film.

The editing follows the featured instruments very well and so you really get an idea of how the main subjects in the score move around the large orchestra. Sound quality and mixing is generally excellent - with the organ bass pedals shaking the floor and every instrument as clear as you could wish. Apart from the strange exception that the bass drum is too quiet - maybe any louder and it would have spilled over to other close mics and spoiled the overall sound balance?

The picture quality is good and you get to see exactly how things are played - overhead shots of the harps, for example, really show you the technique used, in a way I have never seen before on video. However, the environment is a bit "sterile" and this seems to transfer to the performance. The conducting is lively and you have the option to watch Salonen in a small "picture in picture" box. It's good that there are options on viewing - but generally I preferred the main view, which followed everything you needed to see.
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Superb UNTIL the end of Neptune where the heavenly choir is meant to drift off to nothing - magical and essential to do that. For some stupid idiotic reason the conductor has elected to cut off the chorus and move straight on to the specially written piece by a contemporary composer which clashes badly in style with what precedes it and completely ruins the listening experience of what Holst wrote. What a pity as the suite is so brilliantly played, wonderfully recorded and interestingly filmed. The modern piece is quite good in it's own right but is not a substitute for the magical fading ending to Neptune which Holst so carefully scored - just listen to the Proms 2015 performance with BBCSO and Maalki to hear how it should sound albeit just a tad long fade out.
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This disc celebrates more than Holst's Planets suite as its very title suggests. Another main clue lies in the much advertised number of 37 cameras used for the production. This disc is really an extension of the Universe of Sound project and audio visual experience put on in London's Museum of Science in 2012. This was an attempt to engage with the attending 'audience' members by providing a wrap-round experience of being within an orchestra at the time of its playing. Furthermore there were interactive options to find out what it feels like to conduct the orchestra by using linked software.

This was a very major initiative and investment in terms of cost, time and technology and seems to have been very successful. The next project concerns the Rite of Spring.

For purchasers of this disc there are various extras but this does not include the interactive conducting. There is the option to watch and hear a descriptive documentary which gives a musical listening guide to each planet while the music plays. This will be both interesting and informative for newcomers especially. Of less obvious educational value but entertaining the first time, is the option to hear section leaders chatting about and commenting on their practical experiences as the music plays. There is also the option to have a picture insert within the main picture showing the players' view of the conductor during the performance. Again, I would suspect of little repeat value.

The most likely option will be to simply choose to watch the performance in the normal way. This will not be the normal view however, and that is where the 37 cameras come in as they are positioned in such a way as to try and replicate the sensation of being within the orchestra.
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A superb teaching aid ... I cannot comment on whether musically this is 'the best' but I can say without a doubt that this DVD is a must-have for anyone teaching a Space topic! Various classes from age 3 to 11 have been totally enthralled by the amazing close ups and I have been able to pass on far more in depth information thanks to the commentaries. Better than a concert seat.
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But I had problems making it play in 5.1 on my Theta Compli Blu (= Oppo), on which it defaulted to stereo. There are no helpful instructions and I was getting ready to return it as faulty. One more go revealed that a complex and unintuitive sequence will get you there, as long as you are patient: 1. press 'Play', wait for a yellow drop-down menu; 2. arrow down to 'Set up Audio'; 3. press Enter; 4. arrow right; 5. arrow up to 'Play Main Feature'; 6 press 'Enter' and wait - you can't skip the warm up and Conductors entrance. Then you should enjoy wonderful sound!

A pity that the end of the Planets segues directly into the Talbot final, which you may well not want to hear immediately the wonderful womens' voices fade.
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