“Mars” is fine. It’s a slightly-faster-than-the-usual-tempo version, and I like it. I’m thoroughly enjoying the enthusiasm of the timpanists. This isn’t a “folly of war” or an “oh the humanity” version of “Mars”. No sir/ma’am. This is a straight-up piece-of-good-music version. And I’ll try not to inundate you with more hyphens.
“Venus” is splendid. In the section featuring the solo violin (2:59-3:22), there are some little pauses that I like. And…
Sorry about getting ahead of you here, but I have to confess that I’ve just listened to the whole thing. The reason for not mentioning specific movements will be become clear in the next paragraph.
I enjoyed this recording in a way that I haven’t with most of other versions I’ve heard. With these Planets, I just sat back and listened to the recording, and didn’t feel the need to scribble notes whilst doing so. I felt totally confident with Andy Litton and the gang, knowing they were going to take me through all seven movements without a worry that someone might slip up, or that something might be “off”. None of that happened. The interpretation, performances, and recording were all reassuringly solid.
I will mention one thing though. In “Jupiter”, at 3:39, in the middle of the Big Tune, Andrew gets the orchestra to drop the dynamic level for the next long phrase, and then later on brings the dynamic level back up to what it was earlier (at 4:04). It’s a masterstroke. It almost had me in tears.
This is a very musical Planets. It’s not one that is impressionistic, or the kind that paints astrological soundscapes in the canyons of your mind, or anything like that. It just gives you the music, pure and simple.
Update: On subsequent (i.e., two more) listens, I’ve become alarmingly fond of this recording. (I’m at the stage where I want to play this loudly to someone, and while they’re listening to it I’ll shout in their ear, “This is great!”).
I now want to put this much, much higher up the list than where it currently sits. The only trouble is that it’s going to mess up the list in a big way. I’ll have to think about this…