Here, while Tomita's Venus and Mars and the end of his Neptune are fairly tasteful if gimmicky adaptations, much of the rest at best is barely inspired by Holst, smothered under a din of rocket blasts, air-to-ground chatter, densely-packed crescendos and the like – musical mainly in the broad Cagian sense of expanding our traditional notions to include noise and natural sound. Indeed, robbed of its usual quirky edge, his Mars is suffused with a world-weary air and casts a pall over the rest of the work that is never fully dispelled; its final chords seem weighed down with regret, aptly leading into a Venus that seems less an aura of peace than a futile plea. Yet his tempos are not rigid but imbued with subtle elasticity to gently underline transitions and mood shifts. In keeping with Leo's guidance, Malcolm Sargent, a close associate, recalled that Holst didn't believe in astrology as being prophetic, but rather was attracted by the notion of each planet shedding rays of influence upon the earth and mankind. Concurrent with Boult's first remake, Decca issued a competing LP that, coming at the very end of the mono era, was soon superseded by a stereo version (albeit with a different orchestra), much as Holst's acoustical set had been promptly replaced by its electrical remake. If nobody likes your work, you have to go on just for the sake of the work. (True to form, Stokowski wrote a letter to the producer with detailed suggestions for improving a test pressing, including filtering out highs from "thin and metallic" trumpets and adding echo to Uranus as if it "came from a great cavern, extremely reverberant" so as to differentiate it from the rest, although neither effect is especially evident.) In program notes he asserted that the only way to carry on was to avoid any break by beginning his new movement before Neptune fully fades (and so he modifies the original ending with a sustained violin harmonic that segues into his opening). In any event, benefiting from the greater range and flexibility of microphones, amplifiers and mixers, the electrical system soon rendered acoustic recordings obsolete. As Schoenberg put it in his own anarchistic program note: "The music seeks to express all that swells in us subconsciously like a dream; which is a great fluctuant power, and is built upon none of the lines that are familiar to us; which has a rhythm, as blood has a pulsating rhythm, as all life in us has its rhythm; which has a tonality, but only as the sea or the storm has its tonality; which has harmonies, though we cannot grasp or analyze them nor can we trace its themes." That, in turn, suggests that the very notion of authenticity cannot be reduced to a single set of parameters and that great music can only be enriched by a range of personal interpretation. 2. In the Arts Gazette, Dunton Green observed: "It was an injustice to the composer to rob his planetary system of the two stars whose soft light would have relieved the fierce glare of the five others." As several commentators have pointed out, while some of the mythological references seem appropriate (Mars, Holst's "Bringer of War," indeed was the Roman god of war), others seem obscure (Neptune, Holst's "Mystic," was merely the sea god). Venus, the Bringer of Peace. Otherwise, Boult's first outing has few unusual features. While the piano score is useful for study purposes, despite the technical excellence of several recordings the keyboard version unavoidably purges The Planets of all its color and texture. Indeed, Holst's orchestration is often cited as a prime glory of The Planets. After Holst heard it at a January 1914 London concert (at which it was largely despised by both audience and critics) he bought the score, heavily annotated it, and regarded it as one of his most valued possessions. Finally, nearly two decades after Holst's own electrical remake, the next complete Planets arrived. Macmillan is barely mentioned in the standard reference books and seems to have made very few recordings (and of those most were as an accompanist, including spirited Bach and Beethoven concertos with compatriot Glenn Gould), and so we have little basis to generalize his style. Burnett James paints Holst as a lonely and tragic figure, assailed with agonizing spiritual blight and a bleak despair that enveloped his whole being (and which ultimately led him to increasingly dissociate his later music from emotion). A related facet is the extent to which each movement relates to its titular god. Sargent salutes the essential clarity of Holst's scoring (derived in part from his admiration for Ravel), and notes that after a score had been written Holst routinely would go through it with an eraser to expunge inessential notes and even entire instrumental lines. Returning to the militant overtones, Kennedy, though, calls it not a rite of Spring but of Armageddon. In retrospect that's just as well – in 2006, along with over 100 other celestial objects in the same region (the Kuiper Belt), Pluto was reclassified as a mere dwarf planet (for failure to meet a criterion of the definition of a planet – that its gravity dominates its neighborhood to capture as moons or clear away all other nearby objects). Saturn is variously described as Holst at his most poignant, unfolding the decay and senility of old age against a constant reminder of unremitting time and awaiting destiny (Sargent), depicting the futility of rebellion against the inexorable onset of age and its varied portents (Freed) and an altogether extraordinary piece of musical realism (James). Thus his Mars exudes a snarling menace and gallops ahead as though chased by fear, his Mercury sweeps aside any sense of polished grace as it boils over with irrepressible energy, the instruments in Jupiter fairly explode in joy as they jostle for attention, and Uranus becomes a heart-pounding march that heightens the repose of its final minute. As compiled by Greene, once the entire work was heard, many critics condemned reductions to mere excerpts and were generally ecstatic in praising the immediacy, eloquence, clarity of expression, originality and importance of the entire work (although he further attributes the devotion of English critics to a reflection of national pride, whereas others' views were more tempered, with some dwelling on its derivative nature and one dismissing it as "an anthology of musical platitudes. Venus (The Bringer Of Peace) is a Blonde Ale - American style beer brewed by Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store in Kalamazoo, MI. Such associations aside, in purely musical terms the movement begins in a soft piano menace, builds to a terrifying triple forte (fff) climax as instruments pile on, is halted by a massive discord followed by a slower 5/2 section still "haunted by the martial rhythm" after which the opening "returns with increased, almost hysterical, ferocity, ending with grinding chords" (Kennedy) as strings, brass and tympani dissonantly pound out the initial figure quadruple forte (ffff) as its rhythm finally disintegrates. Yet Holst considered its message to be not only physical decay but a vision of fulfillment, and indeed in the subdued coda the frustration and angst of inevitable decline melts into acceptance.


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