Review by mwgfrg January 4, 2012 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
|What could go wrong here? An experienced British conductor leading a quintessential British classic, one of the world's greatest orchestras, supposedly interesting works thematically matched to the major release, a first SACD issue--sounds perfect. Well, not so much. I know this recording has received some favorable press, but at least based on this SACD I cannot imagine why, and I never heard the RBCD. This is far and away the least impressive of the generally excellent Japanese EMI SACDs thus far. Rattle's interpretation is not pedestrian, certainly, but it is nothing special on any front, the Berlin Philharmonic plays well, but hardly better than other major orchestras which have taken on the work, the recording has smoothness but little bite and dynamics, and the orchestra seems to swim in the difficult recording acoustic of the Philharmonie. And the Asteroids? Well, I forced myself to listen to the Planets a second time to see if the recording would hold my attention better the second time through--no such luck--but couldn't get through the space debris a second time. And is Pluto really intended to start immediately after the conclusion of Holst's work? I generally like the piece, but don't feel I should be doomed to hear its first bars even if I would rather end with the original composition. Gardiner/Philharmonia on Decca is a much better bet in SACD if you can find it, more interesting interpretively and with a far wider dynamic range and clarity, and an interesting coupling in Grainger's Warriors; Boult's classic last recording with the London Philharmonic is due from Japanese EMI in SACD in March; and there is some prospect of an SHM-SACD release from Universal Japan of the famous Mehta recording in the relatively near future.
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