This was Zubin Mehta’s first recording of The Planets. He recorded it again in 1990 with the New York Philharmonic. I much prefer this recording to the later one.
Whereas Zuby’s 1990 recording was a little sluggish, this one is full of beans. And tubas. (See next paragraph.)
I’m thoroughly enjoying this brass-heavy “Mars”. (Dig those spotlit tubas from 1:18-1:24!) There are a couple of little mistakes (a trumpet at 1:34, a horn at 2:08), but I’m happy to take those in order to hear all that brass. (I get to hear the splendid solo trumpeter from 2:12-2:24 nice and loud.) Then it’s the violins turn to be heard very clearly, from 2:26-2:38, and then the brass comes back at 2:38 to reassert itself. And at 3:05, with the orchestra’s first big bang, the tuba makes itself heard very clearly. And when the main rhythm comes back in at 4:19, the brass is unbelievably loud. This is all marvellous. Love it. Unfortunately, there was an edit at 5:22 I noticed. (I prefer not to notice edits.) But otherwise, this is my kind of “Mars”.
“Venus” may not be the most peaceful one I’ve ever heard, but it is mighty decent (and it does have a gorgeous celesta from 7:12 ’til the end).
I like “Mercury” a lot.
“Jupiter” is excellent. There’s a dodgy high note from a horn in the Big Jolly Tune at 1:09, but that’s no big deal. It’s still excellent.
Er, I was going to comment on “Saturn”, but forgot to because I was simply listening to it, enjoying it, and not thinking about mundane things like typing fatuous comments about “Saturn”. (Note to self: Say something about “Saturn”, Peter.)
“Saturn”‘s fine. (Does simply saying something is “fine” constitute a comment?)
“Uranus” is fabulous. It’s the first time I’ve heard a timpanist go absolutely wild on a Planets recording. Just listen to him/her whack those skins from 3:44-3:57. (Go man, go!) That, for me, could be the entire highlight of Zuberduper’s Los Angeles Planets recording. I can’t tell you how much fun it was listening to the timpanist in “Uranus”. Thank you, timpanist. Another highlight of “Uranus” is the dinky little organ sound when the orchestra finishes for the first time at 4:17. (Gustav Holsterbolster is a bit tricky here, giving “Uranus” two endings. Unless that second ending is a coda. Or not. I’m confused.)
“Neptune” is excellent. “Neptune” is so excellent I turned the volume right up so I could revel in its excellence.
This is definitely
Top 10 Top 5 material. Unless I hear a heap of recordings that’ll knock it out of the Top 5.
Update: I did.