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Holst: The Planets; Elgar: Serenade For Strings / Norrington

Release Date: 07/30/2002 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93043   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gustav HolstSir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Who would have thought Roger Norrington had it in him? This (generally) swift and (entirely) exciting, highly individual interpretation of The Planets has numerous interesting qualities and satisfies both as a whole and in its individual parts. Mars may be the slowest since Haitink's--heavy and quite menacing. Venus flows coolly, its tempo changes and transitions effectively bound, and there's a particularly nice contrast between non-vibrato violins and espressivo cello toward the end. Mercury has the necessary lightness but isn't so quick that the players can't articulate its tricky rhythms. Norrington doesn't lean on Jupiter's central tune as heavily as most other conductors, and it's none the worse for that.

The march music
Read more in Saturn proceeds in aptly metronomic fashion even if this results in some clipped note values, but the ending is magical. Uranus receives one of its very best performances ever, its hilarious climax full of bravura undercut by the clattering xylophone's clearly audible mockery. The very fast tempo for Neptune recalls Boult's last recording and gives the music a swirling, shimmering quality that slower versions have a hard time capturing to the same degree. Norrington and his engineers gauge the final fade-out perfectly, and best of all, there's no Pluto in sight!

The Elgar Serenade makes a nice filler, though Norrington pushes the envelope a little with a very, very slow middle movement (substantially slower than, say, Boult or even the ultra-affectionate Barbirolli), framed by two edgy outer ones. Still, the music can take it, and if this isn't the loveliest rendition around, it will do as a bonus--especially following a sensationally played and recorded (live) Planets, the excellence of which, I think, just might take many listeners by surprise. [5/23/2002]
--David Hurwitz Read less

Works on This Recording

The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20 by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Roger Norrington
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; England 

Sound Samples

The Planets, Op. 32: Mars, the Bringer of War
The Planets, Op. 32: Venus, the Bringer of Peace
The Planets, Op. 32: Mercury, the Winged Messenger
The Planets, Op. 32: Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
The Planets, Op. 32: Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
The Planets, Op. 32: Uranus, the Magician
The Planets, Op. 32: Neptune, the Mystic
Serenade in E minor, Op. 20: Allegro piacevole
Serenade in E minor, Op. 20: Larghetto
Serenade in E minor, Op. 20: Allegretto

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