Gustav Holst was a clever and ingenious British composer who lived in the early section of the 20th century. He made many exciting pieces of music during his lifetime. This is the most significant piece of music in a sequence form he ever made, written between 1914-1916, during WWI. It was released with instant success, and to this day, this collection of songs still stands tall. Note that he didn’t add Pluto as a planet due to the fact that Pluto wasn’t discovered by this point of making these written pieces of music. Still, this is a quintessential collection of music that must be covered here. Let’s do so, and see where it takes us. This album is performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Herbert von Karajan back in 1981.
The Planets, Op. 32: 1. Mars, the Bringer of War begins with a tremendous fade in with unforgettable melodies and rhythmic structure. It sure sounds dark and foreboding and is very suspenseful and excellent. A really fine and fantastic listen with many layers of melodies present here, this builds up into a chaotic orchestral frenzy that is truly unforgettable. If Classical Music ever needed to be seriously listened to at home, this would be perfect for that. The chaotic melodies present are excellent and are real proof of the genius of Gustav Holst. A wonderful and glorious piece of minor key melodicism, there is a gigantic crescendo breakdown near the middle of this piece. Gloriously good and great to listen to, the piece slowly builds up back into a wonderful second half of chaotic instrumentation. Nothing illustrates the horrors of war in an instrumental form better than this piece of music. A grand and wonderful journey through sound and textures, this is very, very good. The marching drums and percussion are also brilliant, too. Eventually, this piece of music reaches a quieter section towards the end, before racing melodies lead to the epic finale. Great music, and a truly first class tune.
The Planets, Op. 32: 2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace is next. It begins very quietly, with gentle and relaxing melodies that are very reassuring. The music here is very smooth, and the orchestral performance present on this album is amazing. It slowly builds up with gentle flute and horn sections that sound very irresistible and delicious. String melodies gradually enter, which sound very pretty and have a small touch of melancholy about them. This is completely different to the previous piece, it just sounds totally beautiful and reassuring compared to that piece of music. A melodic, romantic and gentle listen, this is a grand and beautiful statement musically, without words or lyrics, of course. Around the midsection, this piece has some dramatic melodies flowing in and out of conscious hearing. This is the opposite of Mars: a gentle, lovely and relaxing listen that isn’t dark or chaotic. This is definitely a good piece of music you could meditate on if you wish to do so, and is really amazing. If you need gentle, this is your tune. Throughout the second half are some further melodies that have an undercurrent of melancholy about them, which is an interesting point. It’s a slow tune, but not at all dull nor boring, it retains the necessary interest that it should. A really cool listen, this is very nice and relaxing. Overall, this is a dream-like piece that is also quintessential listening. Dramatic and brilliant.
The Planets, Op. 32: 3. Mercury, the Winged Messenger is a shorter piece that begins with fluttering melodies and is a much more exciting listen than you’d expect. There are flute sounds, string sections and other melodies that are orchestral and super tasty here. A really pretty, yet interesting piece that fits this collection well, with many solo sections, this is a great listening experience. A string motif repeats towards the midsection, which is definitely different. Shortly after, the fluttering melodies return to dazzle and excite you. Towards the end, this builds up an optimistic sound, and there is a multitude of different instruments being played here. This shorter piece gradually concludes with some distant melodies, before finishing. Good job.
The Planets, Op. 32: 4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity begins with some really awesome string sections and horn parts that must be heard by any Classical Music fan. A really bright, optimistic and powerful sound, this track is irresistibly good. The piece then launches into some brilliantly well written melodies that make for great listening. A really thorough and awesome tune. After some time, the riff style melody enters that is truly marvellous, gradually speeding up after a few repeats. This is sensational listening, and it really deserves your time. Soon enough, this launches into a dramatic and happy sounding melody that is super sweet around the midsection. Interesting music, this definitely sounds great and is worth your ears. A very happy tune to hear, this one will touch your heart and emotions very well. In the second half emerges some further melodies that are really terrific, this sure is outstanding. A really decent, pretty and enjoyable tune, towards the end, are some additional racing melodies that are really awesome. This eventually builds up in a really excellent way to the finish, a very good effort and concluding ingeniously. An excellent piece of music, once again.
The Planets, Op. 32: 5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age is the longest piece on this album, beginning with dark and foreboding string sections and other instrumentation to match. This is fairly slow, to begin with, but nonetheless, it is not boring at all. Some further string sections enter periodically, along with other instrumentation. This is dark territory musically speaking, and it may be too dark for some. Regardless, it is still quintessential listening for this album. It takes a little while for this tune to get going, but after some time, it does get going with layers of string sections and other rather dark sounds. An interesting and great listen, this is a suspenseful one to hear, which requires attention to detail at hand. In any case, this is a good listen throughout, it just requires more attention and patience than the previous pieces. Around the middle, this tune gets loud, noisy and chaotic. This quickly launches into a mock clock sequence that was only rivalled by Pink Floyd on their song Time. The second half quietens things down nicely, almost ending it there until some distant melodies re-enter. This is a good listen and although it is not the best piece in this collection, it does sound excellent. There are some interesting sounds towards the end, which make this much more relaxing than you’d expect. A great listening experience, this is a nice and gentle conclusion to quite a dark tune. Good to hear. A lengthy fade-out occurs with strings being played, nice work.
The Planets, Op. 32: 6. Uranus, the Magician begins with some rather dark and disturbing horns, quickly leading into an interesting melodic section that sounds grand and different. This is rather oddball in terms of Classical Music, and it sure sounds very unusual. A great piece of music nonetheless, the melody that enters after a minute or so is ridiculously awesome and good. Gustav Holst nailed astrology and astronomy together in these pieces of music, and wonderfully so. Soon enough, towards the middle is a mixture of shade and light musically, which is very unusual. A very odd and interesting listen, but nonetheless an excellent one. The second half of this piece is super noisy and melodically strange, representing the nature of Uranus that it is. After a little bit, it returns to a quieter section that is slow and moody. The primary melody eventually returns towards the end and this piece gets quite noisy. This concludes with a slow and lengthy fade-out.
The Planets, Op. 32: 7. Neptune, the Mystic begins with a quiet wind instrument driven section that sounds very good. Some wind chime like instrumentation enters, and this tune is interesting to hear. This is stunning and beautiful, and it just sounds really awesome to hear, around 100 years after this score was originally performed. This piece gradually gets going, with a wide variety of tasty instrumentation to hear. The melodies gradually change during this piece to something fairly dark. The music present on this album isn’t a million miles away from John Williams’s efforts for the Star Wars movies. Nonetheless, Gustav Holst had unleashed a set of compositions so wonderful and unique that they still remain strong today. Around the middle of this piece, you can sense the suspense and restlessness of the whole track. This piece builds up slowly into a really awesome piece of suspenseful music. Although this is not the strongest track on this album, it is marvellous to hear indeed. Some female backing harmonies enter in the second half, which sounds ridiculously pretty. This comes into the foreground of the piece gradually, which is very Pink Floydian. Some dark melodies enter from the background and these mix together nicely with the harmonies. Brilliant, not exactly something one could think Classical Music could do but is done here. This gets subdued and gradually fades out. Brilliant.
This album is tremendously excellent. By following traditions of astrology, astronomy and other otherworldly elements of influence, Gustav Holst released such a marvellous and enjoyable listen for even non-Classical Music fans to hear. If you have not heard this album yet, then you definitely should today. An amazing set of musical pieces that never gets old. There are many multiple versions of this album available to hear, so one can be choosy to pick the correct one. Also, if you are keen, plenty of information is present on Google about this wonderful album. A true classic.