61. Djong Victorin Yu, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1998

Holst - The Planets (Yu, Philharmonia Orchestra, 2010)

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This is probably the slowest “Mars” I’ve ever heard. And it drags. It’s played well, and the sound quality’s great, but it just… moves… so… slowly. The pace does pick up a bit as it progresses, but after the first orchestral bang (at 3:35), things go back to being slow again. Maybe the conductor (Hi, Djong!) thought he was being “epic”. It doesn’t work for me, I’m afraid.

The “Let’s be slow” approach suits “Venus” much better. This is a fine “Venus”.

“Mercury” is OK. It swims a bit in the hall acoustic (it’s pretty cavernous, which suited “Venus”), but it’s played well.

“Jupiter” is OK. The first Jolly Tune (1:01-1:22) is played at a very brisk pace (it sounds like someone speed-walking). There’s an odd moment at 2:06 where it sounds like the entire orchestra paused ever so slightly before continuing what it was doing. The Big Noble Tune (3:06-5:10) is nice. It may not be the grandest version you’ll hear, but it is enjoyable.

“Saturn” is good. Actually, it’s better than good – it’s gooder. The “Now, now, let’s slow down things a little here, what’s the hurry?” strategy adopted by Dijon pays off handsomely here. This is a pensive “Saturn”, and I like it a lot.

“Uranus” is alright, but it suffers from the same problem “Mercury” had – it’s not helped by the sound of it being recorded in a large hall.

But it does help “Neptune”‘s otherworldliness (as does the properly distanced women’s choir).

OK. Now to tally things up. On the plus side, “Venus”, “Jupiter”, “Saturn”, and “Neptune” are all splendid. On the minus side, “Mars” is too slow for its own good, and “Mercury” and “Uranus” both get a little lost in the hall acoustic.

I found this to be an interesting Planets. Not great, but interesting.

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2 thoughts on “61. Djong Victorin Yu, Philharmonia Orchestra, 1998

  1. coffeekevin January 4, 2016 / 11:33 pm

    Awesome to see this many reviews of the same piece, by the same astute reviewer. Is this a two-microphone Jonathan Wearn-engineered recording? He often works with this conductor/orchestra. Although Wearn is tremendously talented, I wonder if part of your impression is based upon the virtual impossibility of capturing this piece with only two mics. Obviously the Mars slow pacing is unrelated to this, but other comments about the acoustic might well be. Either way, I have to find this recording. Another conductor/engineer pairing I liked quite a lot is their Saint-Saens Symphony #3.

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    • Peter January 5, 2016 / 6:07 pm

      Howdy, Caffeine Kev

       

      “Awesome to see this many reviews of the same piece, by the same astute reviewer.”

       
      Aw, shucks. Thanks.

       

      “Is this a two-microphone Jonathan Wearn-engineered recording?”

       
      Er, dunno. I don’t have the CD, so I didn’t have access to the booklet (if it has one). I only listened to the album on Spotify. Although Spotify probably uses relatively low-grade MP3s in their playlists, I had no trouble telling the sound quality was higher than other Planets recordings.

      I haven’t been able to find any information about who engineered the album. (Actually, I haven’t been able to find out anything about the album.) The All Music Guide’s discography for Jonathan Wearn doesn’t list The Planets – and neither does his entry at Discogs.

       

      “He often works with this conductor/orchestra. Although Wearn is tremendously talented, I wonder if part of your impression is based upon the virtual impossibility of capturing this piece with only two mics.”

       
      Nope. I just responded to what I heard.

       

      “Obviously the Mars slow pacing is unrelated to this, but other comments about the acoustic might well be. Either way, I have to find this recording.”

       
      You can buy it from the record company who made it…

      Octavia Records Inc.

      …or from plenty of other places:

      Amazon.ca
      Amazon.co.uk
      Amazon.com
      Amazon.de
      Amazon.es
      Amazon.fr
      Amazon.it
      CDJapan

       

      “Another conductor/engineer pairing I liked quite a lot is their Saint-Saens Symphony #3.”

       
      Mighty good. (Note to Self: Listen to that Saint-Saëns recording sometime.)

      Like

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