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A Hi-Fi Spectacular - Saint-Saëns, Debussy / Charles Munch


Release Date: 09/14/2004 
Label:  Rca Victor Living Stereo Catalog #: 61387   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Camille Saint-SaënsClaude DebussyJacques Ibert
Performer:  Berj Zamkochian
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Still the greatest recording of the Organ Symphony ever made, this latest remastering sounds even grander than the previous Living Stereo incarnation, with a more present and bass-rich organ making a positively cataclysmic experience out of the finale (sound sample attached). Fun as the loud bits are, to be honest it’s the sweetness of the strings in the slow movement, and the amazing way Munch gets the orchestra to really dig into the agitated rhythm of the first movement’s main theme, that together set the seal on this interpretation. He gives the theoretically cooly “classical” Saint-Saëns a remarkable range of expressive depth. Read more />
I have to say, though, that I greatly prefer the two-track stereo mix to the three-track SACD, which strikes me as collapsing too much of the sound-stage into the center channel (with excessive focus on the organ, resulting in a jolting change of perspective whenever it suddenly cuts out).

Neither the Debussy nor the Ibert were as brightly recorded, but the same general observations apply to this remastering. Munch’s Debussy seldom has impressed me as much as his Ravel, well regarded though it is, and I find this La Mer a bit on the hum-drum side, with surprisingly ineffective climaxes at the ends of the outer movements (where is the tam-tam when you need it?). The Ibert, on the other hand, is as colorful and festive as anyone could want. Does anyone even play this piece anymore? What a pity, as it’s great fun. So, although this is a bit of a mixed bag, it has the best Organ Symphony ever, and that’s well worth the cost of admission.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 3 in C minor, Op. 78 "Organ" by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Berj Zamkochian (Organ)
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1886 
Date of Recording: 4/1959 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston 
Length: 33 Minutes 38 Secs. 
2. La mer by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1905; France 
Date of Recording: 12/9/1956 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston 
Length: 22 Minutes 52 Secs. 
3. Escales by Jacques Ibert
Conductor:  Charles Munch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; France 
Date of Recording: 12/10/1956 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Boston 
Length: 15 Minutes 21 Secs. 

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