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Written by Gustav Holst over a 3-year period in 1914, “The Planets” is a true masterpiece of Classical Music that has been continuously imitated over the years by many well-known film score composers. “The Planets” features 7 movements based on the planets in our own solar system excluding Pluto and the Earth itself. This world renowned musical piece, that always overshadowed Holst’s other famous works of music, is here conducted by Zubin Mehta and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. From the thunderously charged emotion of “Mars, the Bringer of Wars” to the faint and distant passages of “Neptune, the Mystic”, this release demonstrates the high quality of recordings made by the Decca Record Label in the early 1970’s as well as the highly refined sound of the XRCD24 process. Listen and Compare.

“It’s ironic that JVC abandoned its XRCD discs* just after it finally got the transfers right, or, rather when it finally had Alan Yoshida doing the mastering, instead of the Tokyo team that seemed determined to make the issues sound like both transistors and digital. [*It turns out that XRCD, as a trade name, lives, though not under the JVC logo. Several other companies are issuing recordings, most notably FIM, some of whose releases I have in mind. For a complete listing, check out elusivedisc.com.] The Planets was one of the last three issued, and it is, just maybe, the first time I’ve heard a CD that does justice to a Super Disc analog original.”

“The specific cuts I use here are 3, 5 and 6 (i.e. “Mercury,” “Saturn,” and “Uranus”), each a revelation in itself. I wonder if the recording sessions took place over a period of several days, because the other planets are not graced with the rightness of sound these three are. I do know that Royce Hall isn’t a recording engineer’s first choice for acoustics, and that what the London/Decca team did here was to take the orchestra off the stage and position it on the hall floor. The sonic effect it creates is that of a soundspace with no boundaries.”

“For my money, Mehta’s “Saturn” is the best on record. He gets it right, and right down to the heavenly ending of high bells and subsonic organ pedal points (these we use here to adjust the output level of the super woofers we are likely to encounter). The opening notes of “Saturn”, played by the string basses, are an effective test of your woofer’s midbass clarity and authority- gotten right, you can hear the players in a row stretching from the front of the right speaker in a convex curve backward. There is also a particularly sweet reed sound (at 3:40 into the piece), where the winds truly sound like winds, dimensional in body and extended in overtones, a first for me on digital.”

“‘Uranus’ is, as you might expect if you know anything about astrology (as Holst did), the orchestral showpiece, with a little bit of everything thrown in, even, toward the last moments, an upward organ glissando (Holst called this planet “the magician”). But, at the moment, I find “Mercury” as revealing of truth as the other two. It is scored swiftly and with silken string sound, not to mention a host of bells and small percussive touches. It gets very close to the absolute sound.”

“Another thing to listen for (and it’s there even if your playback gear can’t ‘get it’) is the amount of three-dimensional depth around the high-frequency percussion. If there is a flat, painted-ship-upon-a-painted-sea effect, your CD player has phase and filter problems – and most do. Halfway or so through the piece, there is a huge fortissimo, with a trumpet ripping through that texture at full volume. Most of the CD players we have cannot “track” this well, if at all. Only the new Meitner and the revised Lab47 Pi/Tracer can.” – Harry Pearson, The Absolute Sound, February 2008

Recording Credits:
Recorded April, 1974 at Royce Hall, University of California, Los Angeles.
Producer: John Mordler
Engineers: James Lock, Colin Moorfoot

XRCD Credits:
Executive Producer: Kevin Berg
This XRCD24 was produced by Akira Taguchi.
XRCD24 Mastered by Alan Yoshida at Ocean Way, Hollywood, California.

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Los Angeles Master Chorale
Zubin Mehta, conductor

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
The Planets – Suite

1. Mars, the Bringer of War – Allegro
2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace – Adagio
3. Mercury, the Winged Messenger – Vivace
4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity – Allegro giocoso
5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age – Adagio
6. Uranus, the Magician – Allegro
7. Neptune, the Mystic – Andante

Total Time: 49:26