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Steinberg - Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra - Holst The Planets - Audiophile Audition

13 June 2012
Audiophile Audition
Peter Joelson
4 Stars

These recordings were two gems on the Yellow Label during the early 1970s during which time the Boston Symphony Orchestra made a series of very highly-regarded recordings in Symphony Hall.  These include Kubelik in Smetana's Ma Vlast, Steinberg in Hindemith and Tilson Thomas in Piston, Ruggles and a lovely rendition of Tchaikovsky's First Symphony, all bathed in that wonderful rich acoustic.

Steinberg was at the Boston Symphony's helm for all too short a time, but he left a recording of Also Sprach Zarathustra which, like Krauss's in Vienna and the composer himself, took a bird's-eye view not making exaggerated points along the way. Holst's The Planets gets a well-considered reading for the most part. The orchestral playing is superb, only moments of ill-disciplined, or ill-fitting, trumpet-playing causing one to wish a section had been re-taken.  Mars is too quick, though it is exciting, and one or two moments don't quite make the effect needed, Venus a bit bland, for example, but I'm open to accusations of nit-picking.  For all that, I wouldn't be without these readings - they were among a small handful of full-price LPs I bought as a student.  These 24/96 files allow the listener to appreciate what fine work DGG did in Boston; while the DGG Originals CD is a very good transfer, the improvement in resolution makes an upgrade a most worthwhile proposition.

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Boston Symphony OrchestraBoston Symphony Orchestra
William SteinbergWilliam Steinberg
Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra / Holst: The PlanetsStrauss: Also sprach Zarathustra / Holst: The Planets