25. Leonard Slatkin, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1996

Holst - The Planets (Slatkin, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1996)


This is a streamlined, no-nonsense Planets. And I like it. There’s a great orchestral thump in “Mars” at 2:14. Also in “Mars” (4:17-5:54), I like how the snare drum player sounds like he or she was transplanted from a recording of Ravel’s Boléro. (One conductor to another conductor: “Hi, can I borrow your Boléro drummer for about two minutes?”)

“Venus” is splendid. I want to use the word “gossamer” here, but can’t think of how to put it in a sentence without sounding like a self-important record critic. Never mind. Gossamer.

“Mercury” is just as splendid as “Venus”.

“Jupiter” is mighty good – except for a bit of extreme weirdness. The repeat of The Jolly Tune (6:09-6:31) has Slatty playing the first two bars at a slightly slow speed, but then for some reason he speeds up in the next two bars. I don’t know what possessed Ol’ Slats to do that. Nobody else I’ve heard does that, or anything even approaching that. The Jolly Tune is always (until now, that is) played at a steady tempo, and no messin’ about with it. I’ll consult the score. Hang on… Well, who’d a-thunk it? It’s right there in the score. Holst tells the orchestra to speed up in the third bar (it says “accel.”) It’s at this point in time that I’d like to say: “Bravo, Slatters. You’ve done something pretty much no-one else has done here – you actually did what Gustav wanted you to do.” If I was wearing a hat, I’d take it off to you. As young people like to say: “Respec’!”

Leonard Slartibartfast’s “Saturn” is excellent too. It’s a slight different intepretation to what I’ve heard from most other conductors, and I love it. The “Old Age” in this “Saturn” goes about its business quietly, not making a fuss. Until the build from 3:13-5:02. That build-up is monumentally fantastic. Wow.

“Uranus” is not as excellent as “Jupiter”, but it’s still very, very good (i.e., it fits right in with Slatty’s overall conception of the entire work).

“Neptune” is totally excellent. The chorus actually sounds off-stage (as per the Holstmeister’s request) – Hooray! But it’s a children’s chorus, not a women’s chorus (which is what the Holster wanted) – Boo!

Wrong chorus notwithstanding, here’s my summary: This is a keeper.


One thought on “25. Leonard Slatkin, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1996

  1. wonderboy September 20, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    also waiting to get heard


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