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Holst: The Planets; Strauss / Karajan, VPO

Release Date: 06/12/2007 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 000894202   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gustav HolstRichard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Every so often it’s fun to take out a dozen or so recordings of a warhorse like The Planets and see how the various versions compare. Karajan liked the piece well enough to record it twice, once in Vienna, the version here, and once far less successfully in Berlin. This recording is surely one of the great ones: stunningly, indeed crushingly played in Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, but strikingly sensitive and detailed in Venus, Mercury, and Neptune. It’s fascinating how musicians not known for their sense of rhythm rise to the occasion when given a rewarding challenge. Listen to the balance of textures, rhythmic precision, and color in the coda to Jupiter (sound clip), to cite just one example.
Read more The sonics are also great–some of the best that Decca ever achieved in Vienna, and this in 1961. Move over Adrian Boult. This is astonishingly fine.

The coupling, Don Juan, has appeared in various incarnations, and as we all know Karajan was a master at Strauss. He recorded this particular work at least four times, not counting videos. This performance is a hair livelier than his later Berlin performances, but just as sexy in the two big love episodes. It goes without saying that the Vienna Philharmonic plays the music with typically proprietary zeal. If you don’t have it already, this makes a generous filler, bringing the total disc time up to about seventy minutes, but the major attraction, obviously, is The Planets. Here is yet further evidence that Karajan’s strengths did not lie in the standard German repertoire, but in music that relies more on color and texture than on symphonic development.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Excellent Recording November 10, 2017 By M. Bishop (Clackamas, OR) See All My Reviews "Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO) do an excellent job of rendering forth Holst’s The Planets. I already have in my music library this same selection as performed by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), and I prefer the BPO version over the VPO rendition, despite the fact that experts have touted the VPO version to be superior to the BPO performance. As far as sound quality is concerned, the VPO was recorded in 1961 stereo, while the BPO account was captured in 1981 stereophonic sound. In short, the sonics are better for the BPO account. I highly recommend this VPO version of Holst’s The Planets as a worthy alternative to BPO’s rendering of the music by Herbert von Karajan." Report Abuse
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