Mélanie Barney / Buzz Ensemble

Holst: The Planets

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The Planets is such a durable work that it shouldn't be a surprise that it can thrive in a variety of arrangements. This version for brass quintet and organ, by Montreal composer and arranger Enrico O. Dastous, is especially felicitous. The organ's timbral variety makes it a natural for Holst's colorful score (and there have been some fine arrangements for organ solo) and the addition of brass, which prominently figure in the original orchestration, makes this a terrific instrumentation for an arrangement of the piece. Dastous' version is notable for its restraint; with a combination of instruments that could be potentially used for bombast, he judiciously deploys them with close attention to Holst's original, so when he does pull out all the stops -- both literally and figuratively -- the effect is hugely impressive. A great deal of credit goes to the performers, organist Mélanie Barney and the wonderfully named brass quintet Buzz Ensemble, who play with finesse, but who can also cut loose in the big moments. The music was recorded in Montreal's Saint-Viateur d'Outremont Church, whose organ is versatile and powerful, and whose acoustics are conducive to music of this grandeur. The engineers also deserve acknowledgment for the naturalness of the sound; all the instruments sound marvelous and full, and the balance is superb. True fans of The Planets are likely to be delighted with this fabulous version of the piece, and the disc should also appeal to fans of music for brass and organ.

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