Gustav Holst
Uranus: from The Planets

Arranged by Randall Malmstrom

6 tenor, 2 bass trombones

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2019

Score and parts


Written and first performed in the backdrop of the First World War, Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite The Planets quickly became one of the most famous and widely performed works in the orchestral literature. The sixth movement of this suite, entitled Uranus the Magician, references Uranus the Greek god of the sky. It begins with a distinctive four-note motive followed by a spirited gallop in 6/4 compound meter.

Randall Malmstom’s arrangement of Uranus for 8-part trombone ensemble retains much of the intensity of the orchestral version while perhaps lacking the sum of its character. Its form closely follows that of the original and it is also set in the same key. Due to the extreme demands of playing range, Malmstom’s Uranus is probably be best suited to advanced ensembles. The first trombone part plays up to d² with several optional indications of e-flat². While one might typically consider using alto trombone, dynamic and stylistic considerations would likely suggest that the first trombone part in this arrangement be best performed on tenor trombone. Both bass trombone parts contain pitches as low as EE-flat and frequently play angular rhythmic passages in the pedal register.

The score and most of the parts are well edited. However, in one bass trombone part a glissando symbol has unfortunately been formatted to overlap the notes in an arpeggio. While still legible, this must have slipped past the attention of the editors. In some instances staff systems appear so close together in the parts that it can be difficult to determine to which one the musical markings apply. Despite this, Malmstrom’s arrangement of Uranus from the Planets Suite will surely be fun for experienced trombonists and popular with audiences.

Reviewer: Greg Strohman
Review Published November 20, 2019