Holst: The Planets – Williams: Star Wars Suite
Los Angeles Master Chorale
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Zubin Mehta, conductor
Of the innumerable recordings of Gustav Holst’s masterpiece The Planets, the one made by Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra definitely deserves a place of honour. Recorded with the equally fine rendition of John Williams’ Star Wars Suite, this is one of those recordings that deserves to be heard over and over again to appreciate its freshness and refinement.
Zubin Mehta & The Planets: A Perfect Rendition
The Planets is Holst’s most famous work – and a successful one from the very first performance. However, Mehta is able to bring something new to The Planets. More than in other, absolutely valuable renditions, this one is remarkable for the fact that the seven movements of the orchestral suite are not only perfectly defined in their inner essence, but they also relate to each other. None of them really ends when the last note is heard, but in some way it is still present in the next one.
In fact, despite the different or, at times, antithetical atmosphere of the movements, it is unmistakably clear that they belong to the same recording and are performed by the same orchestra and conductor. This evidence is due to the fact that an identical, delicate touch and brilliant insight are recognizable despite Mars’ bellicose attitude, in Venus’ languorous charm or in Jupiter’s merriment. This link provides a wonderful connection that is not so easy to find.
Star Wars Suite
Williams’ Star Wars Suite is equally enjoyable. The five pieces from one of the most popular soundtracks of all time are boldly – I would like to say theatrically – performed by Mehta and his orchestra.
To be superbly performed, two works as The Planets and Star Wars Suite should have varied and brilliant orchestral colours and in fact the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra literally shines under Mehta’s conduction. The many light and shades, the silky sound of strings and woodwinds, the blazing, round sound of the brasses and the wise use of dynamics are superb both in The Planets and in the Suite. The result is that they are vivid, bright works where flamboyance constantly reveals the deep insight of their interpreters.