64. José Serebrier, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, 1977

Holst - The Planets (Serebrier, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, 1977)

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This is the first (and only) Australian recording of Ze Plannettes that I know of. I don’t know if that should exclude me from hearing it, because I’m a moderately Australian person myself. I’ll try not to go “Rar rar home team!” or anything like that. I’ll put on my standard “Let’s have a listen and see what happens” hat.

“Mars”: There’s a moment of sour intonation from the tenor tubas at 0:43 that made me wince a little, but apart from that this is a decent version of The Thing We Call Mars. The interpretation and hall acoustics go together well. Is that a dodgy horn at 1:53, or am I just trying to find faults? (Yes, and yes.) I think the string section might be slightly out of tune from 2:39-2:42 (It is.) Oops. A trumpet came in a little early at the start of the march section at 4:19. All of this nitpickery might give you the impression that I’m not enjoying this “Mars”. I am. Sort of. It just sounds to me like the orchestra may not have been quite ready to record it. It’s a decent interpretation though. The orchestra’s death throes (6:33 onwards) are splendid. I thought they were very effective.

Well, “Mars” has finished and now I’m listening to “Venus”. “Venus” is nice. It’s a little faster than usual, but I’m fine with that. I can dig it.

“Mercury” is better (it’s nice ‘n’ frisky, especially the beginning).

And so is “Jupiter”. Maybe “Mars”, with all its mistakes, was an aberration. (I reckon it must have been recorded first, when the orchestra may have been nervous, and the producer showed the players the red light was on.) Or maybe not. There’s some fairly sloppy ensemble playing from 1:59-2:27, where it’s a case of not everybody playing together (some players are a little faster than others, and some slower). Judging from the orchestra’s efforts here, it makes me think that “Jupiter” must be hard to play. There’s some great timpani playing from 2:34-2:40. And I’m very pleased to say (with a big “Phew”) that the Big Tune (3:01-5:07) is glorious. It’s a little slow, but ever so noble. There’s a little problem at 5:54, with the “toot-toot” of the horn being a little out of tune, but it’s nothing major. Overall, I liked this “Jupiter”. To me, its heart was in the right place.

And “Saturn” is good. It’s not the most polished performance I’ve heard, but it’s another heart-you-know-where reading.

As for “Uranus” and “Neptune”, there are no huge mishaps to cause me to hang my head and suddenly wail, “Why, José? Why???” I’m glad I didn’t have to say that.

All up, this Antipodean Planets was OK.

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One thought on “64. José Serebrier, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, 1977

  1. wonderboy September 20, 2016 / 5:36 pm

    i like Jose, but there are better recordings indeed.

    Like

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