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.