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Holst: the Planets [Hybrid SACD]

St. Louis Symphon Orchestra; W Audio CD


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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Masterpiece Sept. 14 2004
By Luna Muse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Performed by The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Walter Susskind, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's (MFSL) multichannel debut of Holst's The Planets is a remarkable and stunning revelation within the aural cosmos. Utilizing MFSL's heralded GAIN 2 (Greater Ambient Information Network) proprietary mastering process, the compelling contrast between the thunderous, enraged "Mars" and the refined pomp and beauty of "Venus" is unveiled in spectacular sonic splendor. Gustav Holst's deep understanding and inspired interpretation of Astrology, Mythology, and the Greek influenced "Music of the Spheres" is illustrated here in meticulous, spacious surround sound on the most technologically advanced sound reproduction media format to date - the Ultradisc UHR™ Surround SACD. The fact is that MFSL's exploration of the sonic universe has often been likened to NASA's research in space - utilizing the greatest technological achievement possible to unveil greater mysteries. So it stands to reason that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, who illuminated The Dark Side of the Moon with its definitive versions of that classic album, will now unveil the The Planets...
16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning performance, huge spaciousness May 5 2005
By A techno geek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Mobile Fidelity has done a great job with the SACD transfer of the analog original. It's how all SACDs should be done.

Upon first hearing it in May, 2005, I had this impression:
But the original recording was made in such a cavernous hall, with microphones so distant from the instruments, that the recording is awash in echo. The echo softens all the attacks, and individual instrumental solos are too faint, so much of the impact of the score is lost. If psychoacoustically, you like the feeling of an immense concert hall, this recording is superlative. Being a trombonist, I prefer to sit in the orchestra itself to listen. The early London FFRR recordings had the philosophy of close miking of all the instruments, making you feel in the middle of the orchestra. Later, there seemed to be a fashion of more distant miking to give a big concert hall sound. This recording epitomizes that approach. I was going to buy the St. Louis Symphony series from Mobile Fidelity, but now I wonder whether all the recordings are like this.

With repeated hearings, I have grown to appreciate the recording in its totality. I realize that my first negative impression of the album came from listening to the opening track, "Mars", where I kept wishing the tritone chordal attacks were more raw and overwhelming, which the hall echo limited. But in toto, first of all, the timbre of the instruments is captured spectacularly. The "Jupiter" track with its dazzling trumpets and sparkling triangles has become my favorite track for demoing the virtues of SACD to others. In this particular track, the attacks are large enough to penetrate the echo, and in so doing, generate a feeling of immense spaciousness, which I dare say, is quite appropriate to a tone poem about our neighbors in space.

The performance itself is gorgeous, luscious, and splendid, and I can see why MoFi chose to reissue it. Upon reading one of the other reviews, I've discovered that MoFi discontinued this SACD. What a shame! Look at the used prices. MoFi could surely make some money if they reissued it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sounds incredible! Jan. 27 2009
By shb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
At his request, I bought this CD for my brother. A music aficionado if there ever was one. He has multiple recordings of The Planets but he said this is the best recording he has ever heard. That's saying a lot! Note that you may need special equipment to play this type of disk. It may not play in just any old CD player.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MoFi weaves its magic again April 11 2010
By J. S. Bower - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the comments of the erstwhile first reviewer, but respectfully suggest he should go back to listening from within his brass section. He obviously has a bee in his bonnet about recordings where the mikes are not stuffed up the musicians' trouser-legs. The rest of us can be left to safely enjoy naturally recordings like this, which are startlingly good at reconstructing orchestral perspectives from the sort of position that most listeners pay to sit in.

I paid top dollar for this recording on SACD, and it was simply worth every penny. MoFi classical recuts are disappearing fast, and prices are going through the roof. If you need evidence of why this is, look no further...

These are very solid performances from Susskind and the St Louis, but the recording is the star here. The Elite recordings from Aubort and Nickrenz are simply some of the finest analogue (or any) recordings of orchestras in real acoustic spaces ever made. And Mobile Fidelity, as always, has done them justice, in full. The results are startlingly realistic sounding in timbre, coherence, transparency and staging. They simply sound truer to life of real orchestras than most recordings you will ever be fortunate enough to hear. And I speak as a frequent aficionado of classical concerts in and around London.

On a good SACD-based system, this is a marvel. It's by far the finest recorded Planets available on SACD or, indeed any medium since the golden days of analogue. No, the performance doesn't carry the panache, menace and colour of Previn's great LSO performance on EMI, but what does?

That reminds me. By the way, a note to whatever faceless bunch of corporate jockies own the rights to EMI recordings this week. Why not allow access to them so we can hear their magic again, this time on SACD? Our original vinyl pressings are wearing out...!

So, buy this one whilst you can.
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better "Planets" in a crowded field cosmos May 30 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Mo-Fi is producing hybrid two-channel/multi-channel discs, so a person can listen to The Planets with or without an SACD player or rear channels. I listened in two-channel stereo through a Sony SACD player, where the sound now appeared better focused, and Susskind's interpretation of this colorfully descriptive score thoroughly delighted me.

"Mars" begins things with a zesty, saucy bravado. I've read that Holst wanted this "Bringer of War" to ridicule the stupidity of war, and surely Susskind's zippy rendition conveys this thought. Nevertheless, it's the slower movements that most impressed me, "Venus" and "Saturn" and, of course, the ethereal "Neptune," with their grace and refinement. Still, it's "Uranus" that always seems to me the centerpiece of the work, the movement that combines the strongest tensions, the biggest outbursts of emotion, and the softest moments of repose. Susskind handles it superbly, the pacing immaculate. This is quite a nice reading, actually.

I listened to this hybrid SACD in two-channel stereo found it quite good. Certainly, the sound is a marked improvement over the old vinyl. But one must play it somewhat loudly to enjoy it to the full, in all its spacious grandeur. I'm sure it sounds realistic enough, overall, to please most folks, probably close to the original master tape. It's an enjoyable disc, and I'm nitpicking.

The only flaw is that since my writing this review, Mo-Fi seems to have discontinued the disc. Alas, if you're interested in it, you may have to do a search.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor

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