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Charlotte Symphony's "The Planets" is so dazzling, it should be seen, not only heard

Dec 1, 2018

Every so often the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra proves you have to see classical music as well as hear it.

If you don't experience Gustav Holst's "The Planets" at Belk Theater, you might never notice the cellos tapping out a pizzicato SOS while snarling brass march forward in "Mars," the celesta twinkling like a tiny star amid the strings' boisterous jollity in "Jupiter," or the euphonium (a tenor tuba) waddling into the swaggering center of "Uranus" alongside his big bass brother.

I've heard at least a dozen different recordings of Holst's 1916 suite for large orchestra, some of them multiple times. Yet any time I watch it, the visual element brings some fresh sensation. Music director Christopher Warren-Green joins this old favorite to Eric Whitacre's new "Deep Field" in an apt coupling: Both pieces depict objects in space and end with wordless choruses making gentle, ever-diminishing sounds and fading away to silence.


By Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer

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