"Solar winds were my starting point"
July 9, 2015 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Pluto, the Renewer is a short orchestral piece by English composer Colin Matthews, commissioned by the Hallé Orchestra as an addition to Gustav Holst's suite, The Planets. Program notes by the composer. Matthews commented on the piece, and Pluto's place, in an NPR interview a few years ago. The BBC's Discovering Music gives a good discussion of Holst's original suite (which you can listen to here).
posted by Wolfdog (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
(Nonmusical bonus link: A Heart on Pluto)
posted by Wolfdog at 8:34 AM on July 9, 2015

The first time I heard the Planets I thought "what a rip off of Star Wars."
posted by Ironmouth at 8:50 AM on July 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Pluto's not canon anymore, though.
posted by The Tensor at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

problem is, Neptune's slow and sustained dissolve into silence makes it such an exquisite closer that this just feels unnecessary.

It's like giving the Mona Lisa a hat.
posted by philip-random at 9:35 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Colin Matthews, AKA the ersatz FX Süssmayr.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:52 AM on July 9, 2015

philip-random: problem is, Neptune's slow and sustained dissolve into silence makes it such an exquisite closer that this just feels unnecessary.

Though of course the composer recognized that. From the Program notes link:

When Kent Nagano asked me to add Pluto to ‘The Planets’ I had mixed feelings. To begin with, ‘The Planets’ is a very satisfying whole, and one which makes perfect musical sense. Neptune ends the work in a way wholly appropriate for Holst - an enigmatic composer, always likely to avoid the grand gesture if he could do something unpredictable instead. How could I begin again, after the music has completely faded away as if into outer space?
posted by mountmccabe at 10:16 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was listening to The Rite Of Spring the other day, and I can only assume (googling seems to bear this out) that parts of it were originally used as temp tracks for Star Wars. It fits so perfectly, though, and I feel like orchestral composers should be allowed the same licence for borrowing and remixing as other artists.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:18 AM on July 9, 2015

It's a very, very long way from Neptune to Pluto. You can pass Neptune, letting the music fade away into silence, and imagine you've left the solar system completely for a long time before coming upon Pluto.

(Of course you'd probably feel the same way leaving Mars and every planet afterwards. "I've gone 3 times the distance from the Sun to Mars and still haven't come to another planet. I guess I've left the Solar System entirely..."; "I'm almost twice as far from the sun as Jupiter, and still no more planets...")
posted by straight at 10:27 AM on July 9, 2015

Related, in 2006 the Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic commissioned another four additions based on asteroids. They issued a recording with the seven parts from Holst and all five additional parts (also available on Spotify).

Saariaho - Asteroid 4179: Toutatis
Pintscher - towards Osiris (and him discussing the piece)
Turnage - Ceres (I can't find a recording; publisher's page with scoring and notes)
Dean - Komarov's Fall (Publisher's page)
posted by mountmccabe at 10:31 AM on July 9, 2015

I hope someone adds movements for Ceres, Eris, Haumea and Makemake in twenty years.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:45 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked it. It's certainly not a pastiche of Holst — if anything, more like Bartók spiced up with (surface?) serialist touches. Which seems perfect, programmatically, for a long way past Neptune.
posted by mubba at 6:39 PM on July 10, 2015

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