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Reviews: Holst: The Planets - Susskind

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Reviews: 7

Review by Luna Muse October 22, 2004 (0 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
BRAVO for this most righteous rendition of a celestial classic :)

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Review by jdaniel@jps.net November 8, 2004 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
There's no denying that this is an excellent recording--very roomy with incredible bloom, impact, and yes, a satisfying organ contribution--*and* a mostly inspired, sometimes unique performance. The armies of "Mars" don't march by as anonymously as one might be used to--the occasional solos are quite individualized and I liked the pitch-bending here and there, adding a little extra dash of malice to the affair. The gong player clearly relishes his part, right from the open measures. "Venus" and "Mercury" are as delicate and atmospheric as ever and the close of Jupiter is thrilling--such fulsome sounds! With Saturn and Pluto I have a nit to pick: one is constantly aware of the beat--I felt as though I were looking at an artwork in which the artist forgot to remove the template! I liked the surround effect of the choir in "Pluto," though they too sing while emphasizing the passing beats; consequently, like the all orchestral "Saturn", the choral/orchestral "Pluto" is robbed of a little bit of its necessary mystery. A keeper though, along with the redbook Dutoit who delivers the most shattering Saturn of all.

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Review by Valimight December 29, 2004 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Choosing the best "Planets" out there on SACD, never seemed to be easy. One is like that, the other has this e.t.c. I have heard two versions until now (the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
with David Lloyd-Jones one as well as the Philharmonia Orchestra with John Eliot Gardiner) that were absolutely not satisfying enough. In a few words, if you seek the perfect "Planets", then this is it. Like Ravel's Mobile Fidelity SACD, this one is also a masterpiece production from VOX (1975), that has been transfered on to SACD in the best possible way. The orchestra of Saint Louis is a BIG one, Walter Susskind is of course an excellent conductor and added to this comes the work of Mobile Fidelity, that captures the whole power of the "walls of sound" emmited by Saint Louis as well as the vast ambience of the recording hall (especially speaking for the multichannel -must hear- part of the disc). The performances are superb and the energy will blast you away, bringing you back again to hear the delicate and peacful Venus, depicted with the most beautiful colours of sound. For any more details, there is always a very nice booklet with the disc that describes everything, planet-by-planet. Holst did have a bent for astrology, and this is the best way you can see if this is true... And of course, I give this five stars, although not enough. You'd better look at the night sky...

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Review by thepilot December 30, 2004 (12 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I agree with both reviews. This is certainly awesome stuff and clearly a winner as far as SACD is concerned. We have an understanding conductor, a highly responsive orchestra and a exceedingly realistic and masterful recording. But... for those with good Universal Players (such as Denon DVD-3910) you ought to give a try to the best performance and recording of the Planets available, that is EMI's 4.0 24bit/48kHz DVD Audio with Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra. Then you will witness the demonic malevolence, awesome beauty, thrilling resonance and other-wordly vision that Previn commands from his orchestra. And the sound of EMI's quadraphonic recording is even more crystalline and stunning than Mofi's SACD. But of course this is the SA-CD Net and not the DVD-Audio Net so I should stop right now. But I will give this to friend Valimight, just to spoil his view of MoFi's SACD's. He, he.

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Review by Ivymike December 15, 2005 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is not one of the greatest performances of this warhorse on CD or SACD.

Though not bad it's just not in the same league as that of some other conductors' interpretations, namely Previn in any of his versions and the 1961 reading by the Vienna Philharmonic under Von Karajan (London #452 303-2). Susskind is just that, in my opinion: a little too kind. There's not really any 'edge' where it seems to me the very best versions win out: during "Mars," of course, but also during "Jupiter" and what is for me the determining movement as to whether I'll keep the version in question, "Uranus." This last should be in-your-face loud, portentous, mischievous and little obnoxious with its mighty bass drum whacks and tacky organ glissando; here it's just not very fun. "Neptune" also lacks the last bit of mysterious atmosphere that really makes for a successful interpretation. The other movements fare better.

The sound is good, more successful than the performance. The work was recorded in 1974 on half-inch, four-track tape: front left-right and rear left-right surround. There is some tape hiss audible but it is way down in level and I suspect Dolby A was utilized. The SACD layer is a direct transfer of the four-track and it works very well overall. There is a pleasing ambience and the sense of "hall" is greatly enhanced by the rear channels. They are used to startling and not inappropriate effect during "Neptune"; the second entrance of the wordless chorus is in the surrounds, giving the effect of the performers being out in the room and slightly behind the listener. The sound is warm and a bit billowy, with an orchestral sound that favors a more natural (and more modern) perspective; imaging is a bit vague but ultimately it's pretty realistic. There is a bit of a hole-in-the-middle effect noticeable at times, and for some reason (a different session, perhaps, with a slightly different balance?) the surround level comes up during "Uranus" and "Neptune."

A mixed bag, then. Buyer beware; there are better interpretations out there of equal sound quality.

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Review by 3altoids February 22, 2008 (0 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Excellent...'nuff said.

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Review by Jonalogic July 14, 2010 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I paid top dollar for this recording, and it was simply worth every penny. MoFi classical recuts are disappearing fast, and prices are going through the roof. If you need evidence of why this is so, look no further...

These are very solid performances from Susskind and the St Louis band, but the recording is the star here. The Elite recordings from Aubort and Nickrenz are simply some of the finest analogue (or any) recordings of orchestras in real acoustic spaces ever made. And Mobile Fidelity, as always, has done them justice, in full. The results are startlingly realistic sounding in timbre, coherence, transparency and staging. They simply sound truer to life of real orchestras than most recordings you will ever be fortunate enough to hear. And I speak as a frequent aficionado of classical concerts in and around London.

On a good SACD-based system, this is a marvel. It's by far the finest recorded Planets available on SACD or, indeed any medium since the golden days of analogue. No, the performance doesn't carry the panache, menace and colour of Previn's great LSO performance on EMI, but what does?

That reminds me. By the way, a note to whatever faceless bunch of corporate jockies own the rights to EMI recordings this week. Why not allow access to them so we can hear their magic again, this time on SACD? Our original vinyl pressings are wearing out...!

Buy this one whilst you can, and before the prices reach even more astronomical heights

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