Conductor Charles Dutoit Takes Us to “The Planets”

Charles Dutoit in 1984(Photo: Erling Mandelmann)
Charles Dutoit in 1984(Photo: Erling Mandelmann)

Earlier this year, Charles Dutoit ended his four year tenure as chief conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra during a troubled period in its financial life.

He became a well known musical figure to many of us from his many outstanding recordings with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra beginning in the 1980s.  We’ll have one of his best, The Planets by Gustav Holst, this evening on Symphony @ 7.

After he became its music director in 1977, the Swiss-born conductor achieved world-wide acclaim for the Montreal Symphony, raising the artistic level of that ensemble and beginning a series of recordings that garnered much attention.

Dutoit was particularly known for his striking interpretations of French orchestral repertoire, bringing refinement, transparent clarity, and luminescent orchestral color to these works.  He was much aided in achieving this recognition by the excellently engineered recordings made by Decca Records — quite a number were award-winning discs.

Many of these qualities are also apparent in Dutoit’s recording with the Montreal Symphony of English composer Gustav Holst’s best-known work, the symphonic suite The Planets. This musical journey into outer space provides many opportunities for displaying maestro Dutoit’s (and the Decca recording engineers’) talents.

From the belligerent Mars and soothing Venus, to the jolly Jupiter, and particularly impressive performance of Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age, this musical excursion is a celestial delight.  I hope you can join me for this performance tonight on Symphony @ 7.

In the meantime, here is a video tribute celebrating Charles Dutoit’s tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra:

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