There used to be a time when I would put blind trust in the reviewers of The Gramophone, but nowadays their judgment (or their hearing?) appears to be increasingly impaired. Last month they cursorily dismissed the glorious new recording of Bruckner 8 that Thielemann made in Dresden; this month they had as an 'Editor's choice' this pretty awful reading of The Planets, that is about as subtle as a sledgehammer demolishing a slab of reinforced concrete. True, this may not be the most refined of musical compositions, but it contains a lot more nuance and feeling than Jurowski gets out of it, who doesn't seem to know that there are dynamic possibilities quieter than mezzoforte, or tempos slower than Andante con moto.
Which is to say that everything in this Planets is loud and fast. Jurowski careens through the piece in almost ten minutes less time than Dutoit took in his classic reading. This works to some extent in the fast movements, that acquire a superficial sense of excitement and orchestral brilliance, but it robs Mars of its menace, and it ruins the poetry of Venus (marked Adagio but taken as a swift Andante); gone, too, are the majesty of Jupiter, the gloominess of Saturn and the mystery of Neptune - the latter, with its many guirlandes, sounding ridiculously matter of fact, almost like a study. The chorus is fine and well distanced but their hurried eighth notes sound muddled and there is no fade out at the end, they just stop.
The recording is harsh and unforgiving to match, shrill at the top end and lacking in ambiance and warmth. Occasionally an interesting detail leaps out (the left-right division of the violins is nice), but the organ goes for nothing, even in the insane glissando at the end of Uranus; and the bells in Saturn first sound like an ill-tuned harp, and then go inaudible when the metal striker is replaced with a felt one. If you want your Planets loud and fast and superficially sensational, you might consider this; if you want to get in touch with the undoubted feeling and poetry behind many of these notes, going for Dutoit, Gardiner or Andrew Davis is a much wiser choice.