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WGUC Reviews

Holst: The Planets

Holst: The Planets
Berlin Philharmonic and Berlin Radio Chorus
Simon Rattle, conducting
Review by: Robert Zierolf

Not all of these works refer expressly to planets, but all refer to real or imagined space objects or travel. Rattle and his orchestra provide a rather uninspired rendition of Holst's score; there are several more potent recordings available (Dutoit/Montreal is recommended). The interest here, then, is the music by living composers and therefore in more modern styles. For one thing, these commissioned pieces are better performed. Without mythology or knowledge of Komarov's space death to rely on, the titles mean little to the listener however they may have inspired the composers. Matthews' Pluto, the recently demoted planet, is not a sequel to Holst's planets. Of the recent works, Pintscher's is the more engaging. It and some of Stockhausen's excerpts from Licht would make an interesting CD for both musical and thematic reasons.

For those with appropriate playback equipment, a ten-minute "enhanced element" is offered at the end of the second CD. Rattle records a lot for EMI, and coupled with the well-known difficulties of recording live in the Berlin Hall the sound is pretty good.


Sound Quality:

Robert Zierolf is Professor of Music Theory and History and Division head of Composition, Musicology, and Theory at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He is also a freelance writer on classical music.


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