When I saw the name of the orchestra I thought, “Oh-oh – I hope the name ‘Bruckner Orchester Linz’ doesn’t imply they play everything as if it’s Bruckner.” (“But we’re a Bruckner orchestra you see…”)
With “Mars” it might as well be Bruckner. Denny, along with his lads & ladettes, play “Mars” with a fair bit of turgidity. (I hope that’s a word.) This is exceptionally well recorded (The clarity! The clarity!), but it’s a distinctly low-voltage affair.
“Venus” limps along.
“Mercury” is barely there. (Check out the oboe having trouble staying awake from 1:14-1:19.) Wow: 2:44-2:55 contains possibly the dullest orchestral scampering I’ve ever heard. As for the rest of “Mercury”, the orchestra just grinds away, playing the notes, but without any enthusiasm I can hear.
Unless things change rapidly, I have a feeling the rest of these Planets are going to be a chore to listen to.
“Jupiter” is OK. (That’s not a compliment.) A bass tuba plays a wrong note during the Jolly Tune at 1:13, but in the grand scheme of “Oh, why isn’t this better?” things, I don’t think it matters all that much. But at least this “Jupiter” is better than the first three movements. It sounds like there’s some enthusiasm here. Not a lot, but some. The Big Tune (3:22-4:59) is not too bad. I’m glad it’s not played the way it’s sometimes played (i.e., too reverentially – which means too slow). This Big Tune was actually semi-enjoyable. (I say “semi” because the last half of it – 4:37-4:59 – was decidedly less energetic than the first half.) Hooray! The second appearance of The Jolly Tune (6:07-6:28) is much better. There’s a bit of pep in it this time around.
“Saturn” starts off well enough, but then little niggling things (such as not-great playing here and there, and annoying pauses) prevent it from being a wholly enjoyable experience.
“Uranus” is another limp-along effort. There’s not a lot of energy in these Planets.
And so to “Neptune”…
This has even less energy than the other movements. It’s not mysterious – it’s lethargic. And the women’s choir is so distant I had trouble hearing it.
This recording was released on the ultra-hi-fi label Chesky Records. Chesky’s web page for the album says:
“This album was made with the purest audio path, using the very best microphones, mic preamps, analog-to-digital converters, recorders, and cables with careful attention to detail to produce the most transparent and natural sound available today.”
Fair enough, but when the end result is this uninspiring, what’s the point?