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Holst's The Planets


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I've heard the Planets live with the Halle Orchestra at Bridgewater Hall, your going to be amazed, its an amazing experience live!

Ricard: ET was not written by JW! Miguel: Neither was CEOT3rdK! Stefan: ?_?

It goes both ways. Many Americans adore Japanese anime and other aspects of their culture. And many rock bands in Germany and Sweden make music as if the era of 80s hair metal never ended.

Ah, I see. Thanks for the link. I think I'll try and find a non-CD-R if possible though. Now I know exactly what to look for though. :|

Edit: Bingo! Found it on eBay. Listing says it's a pressed CD. Thanks for the help!

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Ah, I see. Thanks for the link. I think I'll try and find a non-CD-R if possible though. Now I know exactly what to look for though. ROTFLMAO

Edit: Bingo! Found it on eBay. Listing says it's a pressed CD. Thanks for the help!

In Japan, Philips did re-release this CD vey often, with different cover as 1000 Y serie ...

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Ah, I see. Thanks for the link. I think I'll try and find a non-CD-R if possible though. Now I know exactly what to look for though. ROTFLMAO

Edit: Bingo! Found it on eBay. Listing says it's a pressed CD. Thanks for the help!

In Japan, Philips did re-release this CD vey often, with different cover as 1000 Y serie ...

I have both the original release and the Japanese re-issue, which is suposed to be remastered, though I never checked that...

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What do those of you who've heard this think of JW's interpretation? Generally I find JW to be an excellent conductor of classical music, and wouldn't be surprised if this recording was no exception.

Does anyone know if he ever tackled any serious stuff, like Prokofiev, Mahler, Shostokovich and the like?

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Williams isn't one of the finest recordings of this one... But he is quiet good in Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker, also done with the Pops. And love his performances on Pops Britannia, of music by Delius and Maxwell Davies.

RegardingThe Planets I love the long out of print recording of 1979 by Osawa and the BSO.

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I feel sorry for Colin Matthews. He was recently commissioned to compose Pluto: The Renewer, to be tacked on the end of Holst's Planets Suite. No sooner does it get completed then Pluto is degraded to being a dwarf planet or whatever it is now. :D

In the alte 90's there were rumors that Williams would write such piece. I remember reading something that it was to be comissioned by Kent Nagano... Don't know who comissioned the piece that was actually written by Mr. Matthews. Was it Nagano?

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I feel sorry for Colin Matthews. He was recently commissioned to compose Pluto: The Renewer, to be tacked on the end of Holst's Planets Suite. No sooner does it get completed then Pluto is degraded to being a dwarf planet or whatever it is now. :D

In the alte 90's there were rumors that Williams would write such piece. I remember reading something that it was to be comissioned by Kent Nagano... Don't know who comissioned the piece that was actually written by Mr. Matthews. Was it Nagano?

Yes, it is Kent Nagano, who for the Halle Orchestra commissioned an appendix to Holst's Planets ... in japan I find an excellent version by Vernon Handley and Royal philharmonic and once I find Herrmann's version but the CD has a problem with the master, an alteration that was not so cool to listen...

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I feel sorry for Colin Matthews. He was recently commissioned to compose Pluto: The Renewer, to be tacked on the end of Holst's Planets Suite. No sooner does it get completed then Pluto is degraded to being a dwarf planet or whatever it is now. :D

In the alte 90's there were rumors that Williams would write such piece. I remember reading something that it was to be comissioned by Kent Nagano... Don't know who comissioned the piece that was actually written by Mr. Matthews. Was it Nagano?

Yes, it is Kent Nagano, who for the Halle Orchestra commissioned an appendix to Holst's Planets ... in japan I find an excellent version by Vernon Handley and Royal philharmonic and once I find Herrmann's version but the CD has a problem with the master, an alteration that was not so cool to listen...

I also hvae the Vernon Handley version. Quiet good -- actually I think it was my first recording of this piece.

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Great thread! :( I adore this piece.

The Handley/Royal Phil recording is really quite good, I just recently heard it. I've been on a Planets kick this year - I'm setting out to hear, well, pretty much all the recordings out there. (Long-term project for sure...) :D I highly recommend getting the score if you like this piece, it's only ~$13 at Amazon. I got a whole new appreciation of the latter movements after seeing the score. Also for a more in-depth look, a very interesting book is the Cambridge handbook by Richard Greene: http://www.amazon.com/Holst-Planets-Cambri...&sr=8-13%20

It gets into the history and reception of the work, the music theory, and analyzes a few recordings.

There are a literally a TON of good recordings, to quote Neil: "It's a hard one to mess up." But I feel like Mars and Jupiter shouldn't be too loud and too fast, respectively, though.

JW's isn't my favorite either, he does a few interesting things, but it's basically pretty average. The Dutoit/Montreal is wonderful, it's practically perfect technically and sonically impressive, it isn't necessarily definitive but comes close. Sir Adrian Boult was friends with Holst, and is who Holst asked to premiere this piece - he recorded and performed it many times throughout his career, the best in terms of sound quality and years of experience is his last, the one listed above on EMI coupled with Elgar's Enigma Variations (another great piece!) He brings out some inner details and colors in the score that others miss.

A few other favorites with differing interpretations:

Bernstein/New York Phil/Sony - This was my first Planets, and my only one for a long time. Dramatic, lush, and fiery, just what you'd expect out of Bernstein. Full of passion. His Jupiter Hymn is sublime. Great balance and sound quality. (This is also on SACD now.)

Mackerras/RLPO/Virgin - Fantastic. Full of excitement and energy, the RLPO have a lot of life and presence under Mackerras. Fast at times, but all-around super performance. Mars blazes, Jupiter dances, slow movements are great too. The RLPO brass are impressive.

Gardiner/Philharmonia/DG - Stunning in sound and performance. Jupiter is very fast, but the playing is unreal. A more analytical approach, focusing on rhythmical and technical precision. Tasteful, intelligent interpretation. Planning to get this one on SACD.

Previn/Royal Phil/Telarc - Classy and dignified. Crisp, clean powerful playing. He pays close attention to crafting the melodic lines, which pays off in his lovely slow movements.

Other neat ones:

Previn/LSO/EMI - Great display of the blazing LSO brass. :D It's on DVD-A coupled with two other great Holst works, The Perfect Fool and Egdon Heath, but also on CD by itself used. Awesome for its sheer power.

Holst/LSO - A very early electrical recording has the composer conducting his own score. Sound quality is bad of course, and his conducting is fast and quirky at times. Interesting though.

Boult/Vienna State Opera Orch/Westminster - This is the one with the R-rated cover above. ;) On CD with a different more tasteful cover. Subpar playing but Boult's interpretation is searching. Intimate, heart-on-sleeve. My favorite Venus.

The Mehta/LA Phil recording coupled with SW and CE3K (which a lot of people probably have) is also high quality.

Two on record I would like to hear are Bernard Herrmann's, supposed to be really slow and and a bit odd, and Haitink/Concertgebouw on Philips, with a ruthless Mars. Also, Ozawa's with Boston I haven't found, maybe it's only on LP.

See what happens when you get me started? ;)

-Greta

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  • 5 years later...

I heard the Planets performed by the Helsinki Philharmonics a few years ago and it was a great experience. It is really a terrific suite of contrasting moods and melodies. :)

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I have to admit that after all the hype about how much Williams ripped off this particular suite when he did Star Wars, I just didn't "get it" after finally listening to it. I guess that's a tribute to how well Williams made it his own thing after using these pieces as inspiration.

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I have to admit that after all the hype about how much Williams ripped off this particular suite when he did Star Wars, I just didn't "get it" after finally listening to it. I guess that's a tribute to how well Williams made it his own thing after using these pieces as inspiration.

That's because that particular comparison is totally overblown. There are isolated spots that draw direct inspiration from "The Planets", such as the dissonant orchestral blasts shortly after the main title, but most of the score has little to do with "The Planets" specifically.

And I agree with nightscape94, and not just about Star Wars - I think Williams learned a lot more from Stravinsky, overall. The number of direct ripoffs in his oeuvre is quite small, as far as I know, but there's a certain intangible similarity that you can often hear at the core of their musical styles. (I'm thinking particularly of Stravinksy's early works like "The Firebird", which I would highly recommend to any Williams fan, much like "The Planets", albeit for totally different reasons.)

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I have to admit that after all the hype about how much Williams ripped off this particular suite when he did Star Wars, I just didn't "get it" after finally listening to it. I guess that's a tribute to how well Williams made it his own thing after using these pieces as inspiration.

That's because that particular comparison is totally overblown. There are isolated spots that draw direct inspiration from "The Planets", such as the dissonant orchestral blasts shortly after the main title, but most of the score has little to do with "The Planets" specifically.

And I agree with nightscape94, and not just about Star Wars - I think Williams learned a lot more from Stravinsky, overall. The number of direct ripoffs in his oeuvre is quite small, as far as I know, but there's a certain intangible similarity that you can often hear at the core of their musical styles. (I'm thinking particularly of Stravinksy's early works like "The Firebird", which I would highly recommend to any Williams fan, much like "The Planets", albeit for totally different reasons.)

Yes I think the ripping of Holst or any other of these 19th and 20th century composers has been blown out of proportion with Williams. It is a case of classical music snobbery where these people hear one passage reminding them of Holst (like those blasts you mention) and they label entire work as derivative.

Williams' own style is undoubtedly influenced by these composers and he can evoke and allude to their styles for their emotionality and certain well known moods and expressive musical language but that is not to say that he would steal outright from them. It is a different thing entirely. If anything film music has always been tied to its conventions inherited from the world of classic orchestral music and a good film composer can create new while utilizing certain common tropes of the craft.

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