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Singapore Symphony Orchestra presents Holst's The Planets

Join Principal Guest Conductor, Andrew Litton, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Treble voices of the Singapore Symphony Chorus and Youth Choir in thie iconic Esplanade Concert Hall for their performance of Gustav Holst's epic, The Planets. This seven-movement work was composer by Holst over the period of around 3 years between 1914 and 1917 while also working as a school teacher. In this suite, Holst creates an exciting musical depiction of all the planets of the Solar System as seen from Earth, and as they relate to their characters based in astrology. The orchestral suite opens with the looming and ominous "Mars, the Bringer of War," evoking a building tension through its military-style rhythms in the percussion and powerful, intimidating brass. The driving and intense opening movement conjures images of big military tanks and marching into battle. Following Mars is "Venus, the Bringer of Peace," which almost neutralises the energy and anger of Mars. Holst captures the ethereal character of Venus through its comparatively thinner texture and use of lighter, higher instruments. Venus brings us into a space of meditation with repeated chords that accompany sweet string melodies. "Mercury, the Winged Messenger" is nimble and playful, with constantly changing rhythms and short, mischevious melodies that pass between different instruments around the orchestra. Holst creates a feeling of defying gravity with big descending chords that build and sit under the scurrying repeated melodies. After the shortest movement of the suite, we dive straight into "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity." Perhaps the most recognisable of the planets, Jupiter brings together a shimmering texture in the strings with robust, yet punchy brass melodies. For some, the grandness and jolliness of this movement evokes thoughts of Santa Claus, Christmas Pudding and all things jolly. "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age" takes a turn from the energy and tempo of Jupiter. Dark and moody, Saturn eerily evolves into a heavy, funeral-style march. Holst doesn't delay in changing the mood with "Uranus, the Magician." Opening with its iconic brassy chords, the orchestra takes off into musical sorcery. Throughout the movement, keep your ears out for the return of the opening four chords, as they shape-shift - almost as if thorugh magic. For the seventh and final movement, Holst continues on with the mysterious, magical theme with "neptune, the Mystic." With melodies weaving their way thorugh the woodwinds, Holst depicts a delicate atmosphere as if they were tides coming in and out, emphasised by arpeggiated pattens in the harp and piano. This performance was recorded live at the Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore on the 8th of November, 2019.

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