Holst: The Planets, Op 32; Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Op 30

Reviewed on Thu 30 Mar, 2017

Edward Gardner is no less attentive; to The Planets; as indeed are the young musicians, always on a level of ear-flapping artistry cum virtuosity, here reproduced with a grandeur and realism ear-flapping in itself.

Strange how a simple instruction 'Sehr breit' (very broad) with a metronome marking of crotchet=69 should draw from Serge Koussevitzky – the recording première in 1935 – a perverse response to Strauss’s now famed opening sunrise in Also sprach Zarathustra, five points below speed with important note-values ignored, though still impressive in scale. But as Edward Gardner shows, scale is even more impressive if you obey the text. And from the long passage in section 2 (in A flat, and played, as marked, ‘with devotion’) his thoughtful, perspicacious interpretation of ‘this series of ideological utterances’ (Norman del Mar) portrays them as a wondrously crafted edifice. Equally so is The Planets, to which Gardner is no less attentive; as indeed are the young musicians, always on a level of ear-flapping artistry cum virtuosity, here reproduced with a grandeur and realism ear-flapping in itself. Which begs a question. Chandos proudly proclaim that all their recordings are now produced to the SACD specification of 24-bit/96kHz, yet only a small proportion is issued in this format. The rest is downscaled to regular CD. Why?
–Nalen Anthoni