Holst: The Planets (Arranged for Brass and Organ)

Buzz Brass, Melanie Barney

Original Recording Format: Analog
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Holst: The Planets arranged for Brass & Organ by Enrico O. Dastous is an audiophile classic. This recording is not to be missed! Excellent Performance and Sonics!

The music is performed by organist Melanie Barney and the members of the Buzz Brass quintet. This album features an Analog Recording that was made from March 22-26, 2009, at the Saint-Viateur d’Outremont Church in Montreal, Canada. It was nominated for a Classical Album of the Year award at the 2010 ADISQ Gala.

Despite the strong influence of composers from continental Europe in Great Britain, Gustav Holst (1874-1934) developed an entirely original musical style, English if ever there was one, on the fringe of his period’s production.

Modifying a work’s instrumentation is a bit like translating a text into another language. One must first understand the composer’s intention, then find the appropriate vocabulary. So, to create a version for brass quintet and organ of Gustav Holst’s suite for large orchestra The Planets, Enrico O. Dastous needed to engage in an exercise of analysis and reflection.

At the heart of Mr. Dastous’ approach is his respect for the content of the original score, for its mechanics and for its architectural outline. Generally speaking, the musical material of the orchestra’s brass section has been redistributed within the quintet while that of the string quartet and of the woodwinds has been attributed to the organ. By doing so, the arranger has restored the orchestral dialogue among the performers and has thus avoided creating a concerto for brass. Despite the reduction of the timbral palette, Mr. Dastous has reproduced the original contrast effects by resorting to all kinds of instrumental combinations, of which those offered by the organ stops. Among the brass, the use of mutes has partly allowed them to substitute for the woodwinds, notably in Mercury. In regard to the particularity of the orchestral writing and to the use of two women’s choirs in the suite’s last movement, Neptune, the arranger had to take more melodic liberties to recreate the original mood.

Central to Buzz musicians and organist Mélanie Barney’s interpretation of The Planets is their own respect for Mr. Dastous’ vision of the work. Buzz, mainly known for the quality of its multidisciplinary performances and pedagogical productions, confirms with this third recording. the first to devote itself to a repertory work, the seriousness and the rigor of its approach as well as its intrinsic musical qualities and its artistic sensitivity.

The organ in Montreal’s Saint-Viateur d’Outremont church played by Melanie Barney was made and installed by Canadian builder Casavant in 1913. It comprises thirty-seven stops, three keyboards and a pedal-thirty-seven stops, three keyboards and a pedalboard. It was reconditioned a first time in 1976 and was then fundamentally restored in 1991 as it was fitted with four new stops while some ten original stops underwent modifications.

This analog recording was made with a ¼” Ampex 354 Analog Tube Tape Recorder in the NAB eq curve mode. Two Neumann U-67 Tube Microphones were utilized in ORTF microphone technique and two omnidirectional B&K 4003-130V microphones were used in A-B microphone technique. To obtain the maximum power of the organ from a natural, proper distance two microphone stands were placed on Gimini lifts at a height of 75 feet. To properly capture the energy and the depth of field that you’re hearing, a custom tube microphone preamplifier was used.

It was transferred from the Analog Master Tape to DXD by Rene Laflamme at 2xHD Mastering using a custom Analog to Digital Converter.  The Stereo DSD 512 edition of the album was created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab using the Signalyst HQ Player 4 Pro mastering tools and is exclusively available from NativeDSD Music.

Melanie Barney – Organ

Buzz Brass
Frédéric Gagnon – Trumpet (principal) & Piccolo Trumpet
Sylvain Lapointe – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Marc-Antoine Corbeil – Horn
Jason De Carufel – Trombone & Euphonium
Sylvain Arseneau – Bass Trombone



Holst, the Planets - Mars, the Bringer of War
Holst, the Planets - Venus, the Bringer of Peace
Holst, the Planets - Mercury, the Winged Messenger
Holst, the Planets - Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
Holst, the Planets - Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
Holst, the Planets - Uranus, the Magician
Holst, the Planets - Neptune, the Mystic

Total time: 00:55:18

Additional information





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Analog Tape Recorder

¼” Ampex 354 Analog Tube Tape Recorder in the NAB eq curve mode

Analog to Digital Converters

2xHD Custom Analog to Digital Converter at DXD (352.8 kHz), Signalyst HQ Player 4 Pro mastering tools (DSD 512)


Siltech & Shunyata

Mastering Engineers

René Laflamme at 2xHD Mastering – Analog to DXD & DXD to DSD 64, DSD 128, DSD 256 transfers, Tom Caulfield – DSD 512 edition created with Signalyst HQ Player Pro 4 mastering tools

Mastering Room

Nagra-T Analog Tape Recorder, Siltech Cables, Nagra HD DAC X


Two Neumann U-67 Tube Microphones were utilized in ORTF microphone technique and two omnidirectional B&K 4003-130V microphones were used in A-B microphone technique. To obtain the maximum power of the organ from a natural, proper distance two microphone stands were placed on Gimini lifts at a height of 75 feet


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Original Recording Format


Anne-Marie Sylvestre

Recording Engineer

René Laflamme

Release Date September 10, 2021

Press reviews

The Absolute Sound

Rene LaFlamme’s recording, made in a Montreal church, is stupendous, with subterranean bass, a seemingly unlimited dynamic range, huge soundstage, startling clarity, and a realistic recreation of Saint-Viateur d’Outremont’s large, vaulted interior.

The recording was made using all-analog, all-tube (Neumann) microphones, electronics, and tape recorder. How can you resist?


New Planets Discovered!

Master recordist Rene LaFlamme marked the release of a remastering of Melanie Barney’s and the Buzz Brass Ensemble’s colorful recording of Holt’s The Planets. The sound was, you will pardon the expression, f-king amazing.

How LaFlamme manages to achieve a combination of both openness and sheer flesh-and-blood solidity in his recordings is utterly beyond me!


René Laflamme’s recordings have always been favorites of mine. René uses all-tube microphones.

The sound of a transcription for brass and organ of Mars from Holst’s The Planets was to die for. One of my Best of Show awards at the 2009 SSI (Salon Son & Image).


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