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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 May 2017
Well performed
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on 21 March 2014
This was my very first digital record when it was first issued and I was bowled over by the sound from the very start with the menacing attack of Mars, even though then and now there are moments when I feel that the microphones are a little too close. This still remains one of my favourite accounts on cd, although Boult and Previn sound more idiomatic. Karajan brings a fresh imagination, beautifully conducted and beautifully played, and the sound still holds up well, although I would place the sound well behind the final Boult and the outstanding Dutoit versions. Uranus is particularly well interpreted, thrilling and colourful, but I have always found that the organ glissando on this disc sounds somewhat synthetic and to me it rather sounds as if it was patched on (though better than the first Rattle account with the Philharmonia where the organ disappears entirely from view). For me this remains the only disappointing point about this disc. Yet, there is so much magic elsewhere on this disc in Karajan's remarkable conducting and the wonderful playing of the BPO that it still, after all these years, continues to hold a special place in my collection....even though my clear first choice is Dutoit.
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on 8 January 2011
I have been deciding for a while whether or not to buy the 1981 Karajan/BPO version of the Planets or more recent Rattle/BPO version. Both have had favourable reviews on Amazon which made my decision even more difficult. Still, one important thing helped me in my dilemma, which was that the Karajan/BPO version didn't have the imposter Colin Matthews Pluto, The Renewer in. It's unfortunate that some recent Planet's recordings have included this travesty like Rattle/BPO,the RSNO or Halle Orchestra [who commissioned Matthews to compose a eighth Planet.] It certainly doesn't sound like Holst so why have it at all say I. So I went for the classic Herbert Von Karajan and Berlin Philharmonic Planets recording made in the days when thankfully no one knew who Colin Matthews was and when Neptune could just finsh natually. I did have this version on cassette years ago and really enjoyed the quality and playing of the BPO and updating it to CD was even better. Von Karajan and BPO were well in control of a very difficult piece of music for many other orchestras.
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on 25 April 2017
Classic recording of this great work
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on 22 March 2016
I was a little dissapointed in this rendering particularly 'Mars'. The Snare drum passage was too muted and did not portray the mystique that it should do. I have an almost 60 year old vinyl that gives a far better performance
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The Planets is one piece of English music that has been taken up by European conductors with their orchestras, and this Berlin recording, alongside Dutoit's Montreal version, is one of the finest.

Some carp about the details - if there are some imprecisions, at least that blunts the notion all Karajan cared about was seamless surface beauty - but this recording represents a considerable triumph for the great Austrian conductor. His earlier Vienna version (1960/61?) is almost a disaster. How Imogen Holst could have admired it so, I have no idea. It's quite clear that, a year or two on from what was apparently a real mess under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult, the VPO were no nearer understanding what is of course a difficult piece to perform.

Karajan's remake for DG has immense power, superb pacing and depth of utterance. A recent brush with death must have made the ailing conductor more aware of life's fragility and transience. Too bad he didn't have another bash at Das Lied Von Der Erde.

Perhaps not in the elite of digital recordings, but when you consider how lifeless the most recent Berlin/Planets recording was, we should be grateful for this one.
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on 14 May 2008
There seems to be something of a general consensus among classical record fans that Karajan's latter-day digital recordings are a pale shadow of his earlier, analogue recorded greatness. Although this could be true as far as his Beethoven Symphonies cycle is concerned, he did make some very fine recordings towards the end of his life, and this 1981 recording of Holst's masterpiece is certainly one of them, with excellent early digital sound recorded in well-balanced stereo, and Karajan's mastering of the enormous forces of the Berlin Philharmonic managing to create some awe-inspiring beauty for Mercury and Venus, a terrifying and loud Mars, a stirring Jupiter, and an ethereal Neptune, with much to enjoy in between. Definitely one of Karajan's finest recordings and one of the best 'The Planets' out there, this is excellent for newcomers to the work and dedicated fans alike.
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on 23 August 2005
A slightly old recording of around 20 years old, but an absolute classic. Karajan and the Berlin Philarmonic are simply playing at their subliminal best. The score is phenomenal and the recording masterful and of absolute clarity. The opening 'Mars' still puts a tingle down my spine, as does the lively and wonderously bright 'Jupiter'. Definately worth adding to your collection, if you like Holst. Hearing it on Castle Howard speakers and the finest hifi money can buy will blow you away!
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on 22 June 2008
I am probably one of the few not to be overwhelmed by Karajan's Berlin 'Planets'. The sound is sumptuous, but there is much amiss below the surface.
Listening carefully, with score in hand, one has the distinct impression that some of the movements were under-prepared, judging by the looseness of the ensemble at times, the sprinkling of split notes and the odd wrong entry. There is also the near-catastrophy at the big climax in Mars where not everybody resolves the suspension on the second bar of the 5/2 - something that clearly should have been re-taken. I do not get any sense of committment here and I have to confess to preferring Karajan's 1961 Vienna recording, although that is not without its blemishes, including the conductor's misunderstanding of the tempo at rehearsal figure V. The Berlin recording sounds to me as if the orchestra is just playing the notes, whereas their Viennese colleagues do seem to be trying to make something out of the piece (and, despite Ray Minshull's assertation in his booklet note that the players were unfamiliar with 'The Planets', many of them would have recorded the suite with Sir Adrian Boult in 1959 for the Westminster label, wearing their Vienna State Opera Orchestra hats).
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on 8 July 2015
Brilliant service and got here ok. Thank you
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