Holst: The Planets / Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra - Steinberg

Holst: The Planets / Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra - Steinberg

Deutsche Grammophon  4791081


Classical - Orchestral

Holst: The Planets
Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra

New England Conservatory Chorus
Boston Symphony Orchestra
William Steinberg (conductor)

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2 of 2 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

Analogue recording
Resolutions (3)
  • 2.0 Dolby TrueHD 24bit/96kHz
  • 2.0 DTS HD MA 24bit/96kHz
  • 2.0 LPCM 24bit/96kHz
Comments (17)

Comment by Scott A. - October 15, 2015 (1 of 17)

What a pity this been canceled or delayed indefinitely. It is my favorite performance of The Planets (and I've owned dozens of them over the years). Go ahead and get the midline CD. You won't regret it!

Comment by Tommy Wikström - October 24, 2015 (2 of 17)

Oh yes, this is a phenomenal performance! It must be one of those rare standouts in the history of recordings of classical music. At least as far as I can tell. You can hear the seriousness from beginning to end, well-rehearsed and super strong orchestral performance. I wish I could describe this better but great music comes with so elusive characteristics. I’m sure most listeners will live happy with this version.

For some of us there is a very good alternative to this Blu-ray disc - a 24/96 download release. Probably the same technical version as on this disc.

William Steinberg has another really great (!!) performance on DG of music by Hindemith. Over the years I have tried to find more great recordings from Steinberg, but with little success. All those found, has been below par in my book.

Comment by Waveform - October 16, 2016 (3 of 17)

It's interesting fact that this was originally a quadraphonic recording. Who knows, perhaps PENTATONE will release this as a part of their REMASTERED CLASSICS series in next year.

Comment by Scott A. - February 8, 2018 (4 of 17)

JPC Klassik now lists an April release for this in a two disc, CD/Blu-ray set. There's also a product page for it on, though with fewer details. Personally, I'd much prefer a Pentatone SACD, but will still be glad to get a DGG Blu-ray. I hope this means there's a chance Universal will be doing the similarly announced-then-tabled Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left.

Comment by ubertrout - February 9, 2018 (5 of 17)

I really hope DG puts the quad mixes on the blu-ray - seems a waste to just include a repress of the stereo-only version, especially with this album easily available from HDtracks and elsewhere. We'll see I suppose - they included surround with Kleiber, but haven't otherwise.

Comment by SteelyTom - February 11, 2018 (6 of 17)

Any comments on the musical merits of the Steinberg/BSO performances?

Comment by Scott A. - February 13, 2018 (7 of 17)

I'm not enough of a Strauss fan to comment on Zarathustra, but Steinberg's phrasing and tempos in the Holst are, to my mind, perfect. Only Handley comes close, and his recording has some small issues, like birds in the rafters and a less than perfect SACD transfer by Membran. (It actually sounds better in its RPO Masterworks CD edition, but, sadly, I think those are being done on CD-Rs, now.) Perhaps some folks will compare the Steinberg to the Mehta/LAPO, recently reissued on Analogue Productions, because of their being recorded within a year or so of each other (c.1970). The Steinberg is warmer with the Boston string tone. The Mehta is more aggressive and a bit cold, maybe more fitting to an outer space concept (inevitable to escape when paired with the "2001 music," I suppose, but The Planets is about astrology, really.)

Anyway, Steinberg's Planets may not be the last word in "sonic boom," but I find it to be the most inherently musical version of the many I've owned. It holds up to repeated listenings very well.

Comment by ubertrout - February 13, 2018 (8 of 17)

Pretty much what Scott said. There's a reason this pairing has been in print for at least the past 2 decades.

Comment by philip edwards - March 6, 2018 (9 of 17)

On the blu-Ray disc is described as being quadraphonic by the label attached to the box.

Comment by Gilbert Burnett - March 17, 2018 (10 of 17)

Most distributors now listing this as an April 2018 release. Quad sound and remastered at 24/192. The notes are said to include an essay on quadraphonics. Looks like Universal may be waking up to their assets.

Comment by John Broggio - March 17, 2018 (11 of 17)

To prevent people purchasing the stereo version by mistake, the quad release now has its own entry: Holst: The Planets, Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra - Steinberg

Universal have commissioned Polyhymnia to create multi-channel outputs from stereo tapes (multi-tracks that are almost surround) - Beethoven: 9 Symphonies - Bernstein being the most public of these (with YouTube films that give an overview of what Polyhymnia's magic wove; well worth everyone's time IMHO). Crossing fingers for Karajan's Strauss & Bruckner getting similar treatment!

Comment by Gilbert Burnett - April 8, 2018 (12 of 17)

The notes with the quad blu-ray release says that DG has 800 4 track tapes (presumably quad mixes) in the archives. Seems pentatone only scratched the sutface.

Comment by John Proffitt - April 12, 2018 (13 of 17)

It is also worth noting that the Boston Symphony Transcription Trust (their recording archive) contains a number of 4-channel quadraphonic recordings made by WCRB-FM as part of the ongoing broadcasts of BSO performances. Once such goodie is Steinberg's Bruckner 8, which was released in stereo only in a commemorative boxed set as a fundraiser for the BSO. The cover even (proudly?) boasts "Remastered from the original quadraphonic tapes".... This is not, BTW, the same performance as the ICA DVD video of the Bruckner, which has wretched mono sound in any event. Would that DG could tap into this material for a multichannel Blu-ray Audio release.

Comment by ubertrout - April 14, 2018 (14 of 17)

Thomas Mowrey was on a number of message boards, including the old site and QQ, and said that DG created a quad version of every orchestral recording (and possibly others) from 1970-1976 or so. However, he also indicated that in many cases the use of the quad channels will be subtle at most, with his recordings being the main exception. Regardless, I'd take whatever DG has to offer on this front.

For the BSO Steinberg Bruckner live recording, I'm not sure why DG needs to be involved - the orchestra has proved capable of issuing its own SACDs and multichannel downloads, they should offer this too.

Comment by John Proffitt - April 20, 2018 (15 of 17)

As I said above, the BSO chose to issue the Steinberg B8 in its own (expensive) commemorative set as a fundraiser. Stereo only. Because of this, I suspect they will have little incentive to do a second release to the public, quad or otherwise, or to allow DG access. I hope I'm proved wrong, however.

Comment by Nick - April 26, 2018 (16 of 17)

I received this last weekend, sat down, selected 4.0 (24/192), -15db from reference and picked track 8, Sunrise from Zarasthustra.

After a few seconds I felt the air in my listening room pressurizing as I've never felt it before.

I was feeling the low 30hz organ cycles as waves, then the famous brass fanfares came in, from a distance, and I thought this is as good as it gets.

We lambast DG for sub-standard sounding recordings, but to hear the master-tapes from 1970 and 1971 in all their glory is a magnificent experience.

Planets sounds just as good, it is astonishing to think these recordings are nearly 50 years old.


Comment by Gilbert Burnett - April 29, 2018 (17 of 17)

Having just taken delivery of an OPPO 205 I listened to this again having first listened on my OPPO 105. The result was a big thumbs up for both the disc and the 205. There is a sonic improvement in general with the 205 compared to the 105 especially at higher resolutions. This disc is one of the most exciting in my, now large, collection. It exhibits extraordinary clarity as well as pure brute force but is warm too with excellent string tone. I have always felt that DSD was superior for string sound but I am very happy with what I am hearing here. The quad mix is significant giving a very true feeling of being in a concert hall. Both performances are in the top rank and I have several versions of each in hires disc or download to compare it with. (Karajan, Jarvi, Jurowski, Mehta, Davis, Lloyd-Jones, Reiner - though not all both pieces of course.) I am now going to re-audition the Bernstein Beethoven symphonies which I understand were not originally quad.