In this, the first edition of our new Mixtape column, UBC Symphony Orchestra director Jonathan Girard shares his favourite recordings of composers Gustav Holst and Kaija Saariaho — inspiration for the most recent UBCSO concert. Below, you can listen to the tracks via Spotify (if you have an account) or via YouTube (if you don't). The full playlist is also available here.
This March we performed an astronomy-themed concert featuring Holst's The Planets. The concert also featured the Canadian première of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's Asteroid 4179: Toutatis — orchestral pieces I love.
My playlist includes two very different recordings of The Planets. The first is with Zubin Mehta conducting the L.A. Philharmonic. The sound of the orchestra is extremely powerful and the low pitched instruments really come alive in the recording:
That recording also includes John Williams's Star Wars Suite. It's interesting to hear this work juxtaposed with The Planets as there are clearly musical ideas that helped inspire Williams' epic film score:
The second recording of Holst's The Planets is by the organist Peter Sykes. Peter Sykes teaches at Boston University and is a friend and colleague of mine. His arrangement of The Planets is a tour-de-force of virtuosity and highlights the continuing creativity of innovative arrangements of well-known works:
Kaija Saariaho’s work was written for the Berlin Philharmonic and first performed in 2006. The texture and colours are out of this world and provide a fantastic sonic experience for listeners:
I hope you enjoy these amazing recordings. Watch out for more Mixtapes coming soon on the High Notes blog!