The Holst was recorded with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1956. Acoustics share some of the drawbacks I pointed out in my review of an earlier "Full Dimensional Sound" release of Stokowski's Carmina Burana: a piercing focus on treble and constricted orchestral bloom. Listening from the col legno introduction of "Mars" to the full blare of the brass conveys the vintage of the recording – a dynamic range limited by our standards but fairly advanced for the day. The performance is stunning though, with the usual Stokowskian passion for emotive details. The choral sheen of "Neptune" seeps into the aural picture like magic.
The Ravel gets a spicy, rhapsodic reading with less atmosphere than one is used to hearing nowadays. I wasn't all that impressed with the Stravinsky, a rushed affair as played by the Berlin Philharmonic; the instrumental sonorities, the attack in particular, seem to sublimate into the reaches of the Grunewaldkirche. Packaging, detailed notes, and recording information (including pictures of the equipment used at the sessions) denote the care that has gone into these reissues.
Copyright © 1997, Robert J. Sullivan