SOUNDTAKES

CLASSICAL GUSTAV HOLST ``The Planets,'' Op.32, the Toronto Symphony, Andrew Davis, conductor (EMI/ANGEL, digital, CDC-7, 47417 2, CD) -- Holst's seven-section suite has been a major test of sound reproduction from the early days of recordings right through to this remarkable digital presentation. Though Davis's is not the first digital ``Planets,'' it is emphatically the best in terms of sonics and one of the maestro's best recordings to date. It will put your stereo through its paces, and along the way, you'll note that the Toronto Symphony is playing very well these days.

--Thor Eckert Jr. CINCINNATI POPS

`` `William Tell' and Other Favorite Overtures,'' Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Erich Kunzel, conductor (Telarc, digital, DG 80116, LP; CD-80116, CD) -- Another Telarc sonic spectacular, complete with wall-quaking bass drums and ultra-showy brass perorations. Telarc has also been turning in some serious recordings as well, but the more it looks to the Previns and Dohn'anyis, the more this sort of release blemishes the luster of the label. By now, sound-for-sound's-sake CDs are a dime a dozen.

-- T. E. Jr. ROCK/JAZZ THE CURE

``Standing on a Beach -- The Singles'' (Elektra 60477-1) -- The underground British rock group known as the Cure has been described as punkish, existentialist, and flamboyant. Their vocals, sung with obvious abandon, have a wild, coming-apart-at-the-seams sound, riding over a hammering, mechanical backup that includes some eccentric and interesting synthesizer effects. Some of the Cure's songs are colored by dark, ironic humor that might be a bit too hard-edged for some listeners.

-- Amy Duncan JULIAN LENNON ``The Secret Value of Daydreaming'' (Atlantic 81640-1-E) -- Lennon's second album has gotten a rather chilly reception so far, but it's better than you think. He's looking for his own voice here, and the exploration is often stimulating. The second side has the best cuts -- especially the dark, haunting ``You Don't Have to Tell Me'' and the gently rocking ``Every Day.'' The elder Lennon's influence is still there, which is understandable and altogether agreeable. -- A. D. LYLE MAYS ``Lyle Mays'' (Geffen GHF-2409; cassette M5G 24097; no CD) -- This is pianist Mays's first outing as a leader, and it reflects his years with the Pat Metheny Group. The music is smooth, melodic, rock-oriented, with touches of ethnic sounds and rhythms. Mays, who is a polished technician, plays piano, synthesizers, and autoharp in a stylistically varied set. The music is tuneful and rather ethereal, if a bit bland at times.

--A.D. MICHEL CAMILO ``Why Not?'' (King K28P 6371, no CD) -- The feisty pianist/composer from Santo Domingo, known for his work in TV, film, and commercial scoring, is making his mark as a jazz artist. This Japanese import features Camilo's sextet playing six of his compositions, many of them Latin flavored. The music is full of energy, dynamic variation, and colorful textures, and shows off Camilo's firey pianistics. --A.D.

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