Well, I figured I would start a new thread since I was the one that suggested individual threads. This topic seems like one of the major ones. How do you know which recording of a particular piece of music to get? There are several ways to decide - some better then others. My least favorite way is going by the label. I realize that this is a HT forum first and foremost and that many people are very concerned with the recording quality and the sound quality. Although this is certainly a plus, I would place it far down my list of attributes of a good recording. Considering that we are talking about "The Planets", which is an English piece, perhaps looking into recordings with English orchestras would be a good place to start. Certainly, the English know how to play their music. Another thing to consider is the conductor and the orchestra. You have to decide if you are going to focus on the interpretation of the music, or the quality of the playing. Many times, you can have both. If you are into the interpretation of the piece, you should look into which conductors will present the piece the way the composer intended. Or, in this case, which ones are the best at English music. If you are a conductor, then this is probably what you will be concerned with. On the other hand, you may simply want a competant interpretation with a superior orchestra. Maybe you are listening for a certain instrumental section - or even a certain instrument. Maybe you know the the musicians in a particular orchestra are known for their high standard of performance. Maybe you just want loud brass, or dark strings, or energetic percussion, or bright brass and woodwind. Maybe you might want to support your local symphony orchestra just because you live in the same city. I have bought several CD's of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra just because they are "my" orchestra. In my case, music I never would have otherwise purchased. Another deciding point may be what else is on the disc. The length of "The Planets" is such that there would be room for more music. Maybe you are trying to learn the classical repertoire and you just want more music. It's like getting a free piece of music. You just may like it and be interested in investigating more music by that composer. A definitive recording of "The Planets"? Impossible to say. Everyone listens for different things. We can give recommendations, but we must say why. This is one of the great things about classical music. There are probably 100 different recordings of "The Planets", and I bet every one of them sounds different. So my question to you is - Which recordings do you recommend of "The Planets", and why? I like James Levine with the Chicago Symphony because the brass section plays so dark and loud. Although not out of balance, but musical. The strings are dark and I think Levine interpretation is good - maybe not the best, but good. I also like Zubin Mehta with the LA Philharmonic. The euphonium player sounds very "english." Almost English brass band style. Overall, it's a very different sound from Chicago - much brighter. There are a couple trombone tuba parts that really sound good. The recording quality of LA is not as good as Chicago, but then again it was recorded in 1971. On the other hand, the LA recording has Star Wars and Close Encounters suite on it. Chicago has nothing extra. LA is $7.99 where I got it, Chicago was full price. Lots of pros and cons, but that the fun of it.