Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dude, Check This Out: The Planets by Gustav Holst

Spring is here, and we all know that in Spring a young man's fancy turns to classical music. But not just any classical music. For me it's The Planets, a grand and glorious work by Gustav Holst.

On a Spring day back in the early 70's I walked downtown in my little college town and picked up this album in the local record store. Yes, this cover has been on every single "worst album cover" list ever since.

Even Gustav Holst himself couldn't believe the level of its tackiness.

But I had heard a taste of the music on the radio and I wasn't going to let a tacky album cover deter me. (OK, I liked the cover. But just for its irreverence, of course.) I went home, slid the record out and put it on the stereo, and was transported.

I listened to it steadily for weeks afterward, always inspired by the orchestral journey into the depths of space and time.

So now this music takes me back to those Spring mornings when I'd get up and put it on first thing, with the sun shining through the new leaves into the open windows of our upstairs apartment, and the smell of Spring filling the room. Ah. I hear this music and I'm young again in an ageless universe.

Here are the movements in order. Sir Adrian Boult's version on that original album was a good one, but so is this excellent performance by the London Philharmonic.

And for those of you who would like to immerse yourself in the full experience, here's the Berlin Philharmonic on Youtube. Enjoy the trip.

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