Notes and Editorial Reviews
*** This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. ***
The third batch of Living Stereo SACD reissues leads off with Pierre Monteux performances that have dominated the field for more than 40 years. Monteux’s Franck Symphony, recorded with the Chicago Symphony in 1961, remains the best on disc. Tension always underlies the brooding; this is work of clarity, control, focus, and power, which never turns to Wagnerian sludge (like so much d’Indy). Listen to the firmness of the opening passage of the Allegretto; it’s beautiful and lyrical, but there’s nothing timid or overly pretty about it. The third movement pushes
ahead at just the right pace, decisive but never frantic. Throughout, the woodwinds enjoy a particularly realistic presence, and Monteux and the engineers maintain excellent clarity of texture, except at certain inevitably muddy climaxes (the fault of Franck’s orchestration). There’s still a hint of peak-level distortion affecting the first violins, but that’s been there since the LP days.
Monteux was associated with Stravinsky’s
from its inception in 1911; the composer praised the conductor for “a very clean and finished execution,” which was no small feat, considering the many problems of rhythm and balance and the probably limited quality of the pit orchestra. Monteux gave the first American performance of the music in 1920, when he led the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a suite drawn from the ballet, and he recorded the entire score with that orchestra in 1959; that’s the version at hand. Monteux never forgot the music’s origins on the ballet stage; he begins this performance at an easy tempo, the rhythms strongly marked yet with a lightness to the playing that remains throughout the performance without undercutting the music’s more sinister aspects. The textures may not always be as immaculate as in, say, a Boulez performance, but there’s always a graceful, lithe physicality to the playing here. RCA’s three-channel SACD re-mastering provides the recording’s most lifelike presentation yet.
FANFARE: James Reel
Works on This Recording
Symphony in D minor, M 48 by César Franck
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1886-1888; France
Date of Recording: 01/07/1961
Venue: Orchestra Hall, Chicago, Illinois
Length: 39 Minutes 1 Secs.
Pétrouchka by Igor Stravinsky
Bernard Zighera (Piano)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 01/1959
Venue: Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
Length: 34 Minutes 53 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: Switzerland (1911).
Composition revised: 1947.
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