Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


The Planets - Gustav Holst

The Philharmonia Orchestra , ST Dacid's Hall , June 25, 2019
The Planets - Gustav Holst   by The Philharmonia Orchestra Left home at approximately 4pm arrived into the City of Cardiff at approximately 4:30pm the roads were a little quieter and the weather was dull with grey clouds. When I arrived in Cardiff I stopped off at my local lounge where I met a group of friends for coffee and biscuits before heading off to pick my tickets up for the incredible performance of the planets by Gustav Holst with the Philharmonia Orchestra with conductor Jamie Phillips, Clare Hammond on the piano, and the Cardiff Ardwyn Singers

Arrived at reception where I was greeted by the staff at St David’s Hall booking team I went to collect my tickets and there was a mix-up as the tickets were not printed for myself the lady then messaged the manager of St David’s hall and my review tickets were printed for me having limited mobility I normally sit on the ground floors but the tickets that were printed for myself and my plus one were high in the third floor tier I struggled to get up and down the stairs so the St David’s Hall staff found me a ground floor seat for me and my colleague where I was made to feel comfortable.

The staff at St David’s hall were incredible and the young boy at the theatre is very helpful and a pleasure to deal with. The concert begins with conductor Jamie Phillips tuning up his orchestra then went back off stage for a few seconds then came back on the stage where he looked at the audience the audience then clapped really loud and the conductor took a bow and introduced the Orchestra. They started to play and all through the orchestra playing, we were presented with a big visual display of videos of all the planets adding to the atmosphere.

The videos were mesmerizing and the Philharmonia Orchestra’s music was set to play in time with the images. The Philharmonia Orchestra was founded in 1945, it’s home is The South Bank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in the heart of London. The orchestra have been resident since 1995 and presents a season of around 50 shows per year, they also won a South Bank Sky Arts Award in 2019. The orchestra was a great delight to hear.

The organ at St. David’s Hall was played brilliantly by Richard Pearce. The orchestra played a few pieces by Sibelius, At the Gate from Pelléas et Mélisande. This was followed by William’s Sweet from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, then The Shining One, After the interval we all returned back to our seats after sweets, Ice-cream, drinks and snacks, we were greeted by the conductor , who introduced us to the music - Holtz’s The Planets.

During the first half, the magnificent Clare Hammond, “acclaimed pianist of amazing power and panache’ (The Telegraph) Clare Hammond is recognized for her virtuosity and the authority of her performances and has developed a reputation for brilliantly and imaginative concert programme (BBC Music Magazine). In 2016 she won the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award in recognition of outstanding achievement . In 2020 she will give her debut recital for the International Piano Series at the South Bank Centre.

Clare played a gorgeous piano piece and was outstanding. To find out more about Clare Hammond you can check her out at where you will be amazed by the extent of her work.

After the first half we were delighted by The Planets, first Mars, The Bringer of War, Second, Venus The Bringer of Peace, then Mercury. the winged messenger, Jupiter bringer of jollity, Saturn the bringer of old age, Uranus the magician, and seventh Neptune the mystic.

Gustav Holst achieved public fame over night at the age of 45 with a performance of The Planets. Although it made him one of the best figures in the world of music, none of his other works ever achieved the same popularity. He said in later life that failure is the most important part of an artist’s training. Further reading recommended, Gustav Holst, The Man and his Music by Michael Short.
The first song was The Sky at Night where we were given a vibrant and bright display of the skies at night and a display of the atmosphere and the stars.

The planets concert at st David’s Hall was a big sell out I was overwhelmed by the amount of people from all walks of life were so passionate to buy tickets and to come celebrate the music of Gulstav Holst and the Philharmonic Orchestra’s programmes were on sale at the event for £3.50. We were then played a video of an Echo Falcon spaceship flying across the skies. It looked a bit like the robot from the movie, Short Circuit. In one of the arrangements the conductor reminded me of the conductor from dirty dancing.

One lady in our row got a little irate with another guest as they were eating sweets and rattling the sweet wrappers in the isle seats but all I could hear of one customer’s passion for the orchestra and the music. Then the rustling stopped and everyone was happy. The orchestra’s harpist also made a magic addition to the atmosphere. The orchestra really took us Into the amazement of the musicMany other unusual instruments could be heard, tambourines, chimes with high pitched notes, and drums.

The concert also featured the Cardiff Alwyn Singers, they are one of Wales leading mixed choirs, enjoying a reputation for its very varied repertoire and particular affinity with contempary Welsh Music. The choir sang harmonies of ooo’s and aaaaaahhh’s and was a delightful, an unexpected special addition.

The concert ended at 21:15. There were presenters teaching us about the planets and you could have your photograph taken with your head inside the astronaut’s gear. I had a drink in the bar whilst it was still open then headed off home at the end of the night. The concert was amazing judging by the audience applause. They would love to see it all over again. Coming out of the theatre I could hear many people being very jolly and humming some of the songs from the planets we all went home happy and refreshed.

Reviewed by: Justin lamnea

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