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Beethoven: Symphonies No 5 & 6 / Munch, Boston Symphony

Release Date: 07/26/2005 
Label:  Rca Victor Living Stereo Catalog #: 67898   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Charles Munch is not the first conductor one associates with Beethoven’s symphonies, but excellent, privately issued French broadcast recordings from the 1960s show him to have been a strong, vigorous Beethovenian. So, too, do a few commercial recordings for RCA during his Boston Symphony years, although these haven’t circulated very widely in the post-LP era. Indeed, RCA skipped over Munch’s Beethoven Fifth and Sixth during its Living Stereo reissue go-round in the 1990s, but here they are making a welcome addition to the new Living Stereo SACD catalog. The two-channel sound here is vibrant but hardly astonishing; the main point of interest remains the Read more performances.

The Fifth benefits from fleet tempos, tight ensemble, and punchy attacks, with the woodwinds nicely cutting through the string-centered sonority. Munch tends to set a course and push through without offering any of the telling details of phrasing and pacing provided by, say, Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic (on a distant-sounding two-channel SACD reissue from DG, coupled with the Seventh), to say nothing of the splendid recent Vänskä/Minnesota surround version on BIS (coupled with the Fourth). Still, it’s a fine performance comparable to the early 1960s Karajan (also on SACD), but with greater textural variety.

The “Pastoral” Symphony is even better. My favorite recording is the genial Monteux/London Symphony on Decca (not reissued in a DSD version, alas); Munch comes very close to this standard, burbling along with gentle delight in the first two movements, and then pulling out all the stops in the symphony’s second half, with superb wind solos in the third movement, a powerful storm sequence, and a concluding hymn that’s managed so well that for once it doesn’t wear out its welcome. Again, Munch is stingy with repeats, but that’s not really critical in this symphony. A very good Fifth and an outstanding “Pastoral” gain a well-deserved new lease on life.

FANFARE: James Reel
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1955 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 
Symphony no 6 in F major, Op. 68 "Pastoral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1808 
Date of Recording: 08/16/1955 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts 

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