Patrick Gleeson

Beyond the Sun: An Electronic Portrait of Holst's The Planets

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An Electronic Portrait of Gustav Holst's The Planets appeared in 1976, among the vogue for synthesizer albums of that era. Patrick Gleeson realized the work entirely on a synthesizer, and the album had a somewhat wonkish but highly characteristic-of-the-times note by Wendy Carlos, which is reproduced here. The album's engineering was hailed at the time, and the music has undergone digital remastering that sounds great. However, this is not the only reason to give Gleeson's album a rehearing. The range of sounds he got from his synthesizer at the time may have been unprecedented, but what's made it last, is that he applied those sounds in musical ways. Sample several tracks to get an idea. Gleeson is able to make his eMU synthesizer sound reasonably like a full orchestra at times, for example, in the first movement, "Mars, the Bringer of War." Elsewhere, more purely electronic sounds come to the fore, and Gleeson plays off this contrast. Of course, the large orchestral palette was, and remains, one of the attractions of The Planets. Gleeson's version is more than a gee-whiz set of electronic sounds, more even than a virtuoso technical feat: it is a valid part of the work's evolving history.

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