Yoel Levi

Holst: The Planets

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Telarc's 1998 surround sound recording of Gustav Holst's The Planets is a sonic spectacular in every way, and listeners who just need a good recording to blast from their high-end sound systems need look no further. This vibrant and responsive recording with Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is guaranteed to sound impressive, even on a small CD player. But beyond its obvious purpose to show off dazzling orchestral colors and to overwhelm with its sheer volume, this recording is no more exciting, compelling, or breathtaking than many other popular versions available, and seems quite average when compared to several other multichannel SACDs released since it first appeared. Technically, Levi and the ASO are on top of their game, and there are absolutely no idiosyncrasies or flaws to mar their brilliantly polished and briskly paced reading. But some listeners may feel that the playing is a bit too brilliant, the tempos a little too brisk, and the resonant ambience of the studio too clean, controlled, and ideally produced, as if the demonstration of state-of-the-art sound quality has usurped depth of expression as a desirable end. So while this recording delivers a powerful punch, particularly in Mars and Jupiter, it is less than subtle and not especially rewarding in the soft, evanescent movements, such as Venus or Neptune.

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