Holst: The Planets

Album review
Holst: The Planets


The Planets

Label: Fidelio
Media: LP
Genre: Classical

Holst’s orchestral spectacular seems designed as an audiophile showpiece, and as you probably know there are several recordings of it that hit the sonic jackpot. Here’s another such, but with a twist: this one’s played by a brass quintet and organ. The adaptation is darn good, too, though as you’d expect more successful in some parts than others. The majestic and weighty movements (“Mars” and “Jupiter”) come off with commanding power and intensity, and the minatory and mysterious outer planets are pretty cool, too. Faster or more delicate orbs (“Venus” and “Mercury”) more dependent on strings and winds in the original are less persuasive: not as fleet, elfin, or transparent. As Stravinsky once said about the organ: “The monster never breathes.” Fidelio’s recording, made in a Montreal church, is stupendous, with subterranean bass (the slow, heavily- treading organ in “Saturn” has tectonic impact), a seemingly unlimited dynamic range, huge soundstage, startling clarity, and a realistic recreation of Saint-Viateur d’Outremont’s large, vaulted interior. The recording was made using all-analog, all-tube (Neumann) microphones, electronics, and tape recorder, and encoded onto two dead-quiet 45rpm black discs. How can you resist?

More Info

  • composer, Gustav Holst
  • primary artist, Buzz Brass
  • primary artist, Melanie Barney

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