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Great Conductors of the 20th Century ~ Charles Munch [Original recording remastered]

Charles Munch Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 11, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B00006IGIO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,144 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. La Princesse Jaune: Overture
2. I. Allegro Ma Non Troppo, Un Poco Maestro - Leontyne Price
3. II. Molto Vivace - Leontyne Price
4. III. Adagio Molto E Cantabile - Leontyne Price
5. IV. Presto - Allegro Assai - Rezitativo: 'O Freunde, Nicht Diese Tone!' - Allegro Assai - Leontyne Price
6. Overture 'Le Corsaire', Op. 21
Disc: 2
1. III. Scherzo. Allegro Leggierissimo
2. I. Allegro Vivo
3. II. Adagio
4. III. Scherzo. Allegro Vivace
5. IV. Allegro Vivace
6. I. Lento - Andante Moderato - Allegro - Lento
7. II. Poco Allegro
8. III. Lento - Poco Vivo - Adagio - Andante - Allegro - Moderato - Allegro Vivace - Lento
9. Death Of Tybalt (No.1/VII)
10. The Montagues And Capulets (No.2/I)
See all 12 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
It's sad that the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" reissue series has not gotten more notice on Amazon.com and in other places, because it has my vote for the best reissue program thus far of the 21st Century. Drawing from the archives of all the major classical labels (EMI, Sony, BMG, DG, Decca, Philips, Supraphon, etc.), EMI and IMG Artists have assembled a wonderful series of affordable two-disc sets by the leading conductors of the last century. And unlike its counterpart, "The Great Pianists of the 20th Century," which are basically compilations of material already available on other CDs, the "Great Conductors" features rare and, for the most part, previously unreleased performances!
This particular CD, Volume 22, features the great Charles Munch, who led the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the golden age of stereo recordings. As the track information is not abundantly clear above, allow me to mention that these discs feature memorable performances of Beethoven's 9th (with Leontyne Price and Maureen Forrester!), Mendelssohn's Octet, Martinu's Symphony No. 6, and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suites all with the BSO from between 1956 and 1960. A late recording of Bizet's Symphony in C from 1966 (2 years before Munch's death) is with the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Francaise, and the set's only mono performances are Berlioz's Overture "Le Corsaire" from 1948 and Saint-Saens "La Princesse jaune: Overture" from 1951. Whether in stereo or mono, these performances are all golden.
Whether you are a serious collector of classical music or a beginner, the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" has something for everyone. If the prized, rare performances previously unreleased on CD (or ever!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Beethoven May 2, 2003
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This set is worthwhile just to hear Munch conduct if you haven't. Moreover, it would be worth the price of admission just for the Beethoven No. 9.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra under Munch's baton was called, only half facetiously, the greatest French orchestra in the world. With the orchestra at its peak, and with first-rate soloists, Munch recorded the Beethoven 9 on three sides of a 2-LP RCA Red Seal release. Now it's on disc 1 of this set.
This long was my favorite recorded performance of the Beethoven No. 9--partly for its "French" qualities, most especially a gorgeous tone from the BSO. Munch coaxed a rich, mellow sound from the strings and winds that, in my opinion, was unmatched, and it serves this German composer's music very, very well. The CD captures the richness of the LP sound well.
Munch's tempos seem right on the money. The first movement has drive, and it expresses Beethoven's rage and fury when it should, but Munch avoided the break-neck pace of some recordings.
Some performances rush the scherzo movement and get a sort of galumphing effect. Munch's tempo here also has drive, but Munch finds an unusual elegance in the movement, and his players give the music that distinctive beautiful tone. It shows the music in a different light--maybe a new one, if you haven't heard this approach before. The rest of the performance is equally fine (and, again, there are those fine soloists in the last movement.)
So far as I know, this performance was never before issued on CD, and I always thought this was a shame. It's a very welcome addition to the catalog, and it remains my favorite recorded performance of the piece. (The 4th side of the Red Seal LPs had the Beethoven No. 8. Sadly, this performance still seems unavailable on CD.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Ninth for the Ages, and Other Goodies! November 9, 2003
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Charles Munch and Beethoven? An unlikely combination of French conductor, and arguably Germany's greatest composer and his greatest composition! But this wonderful reading with stellar soloists (including a young Leontyne Price) and the New England Conservatory Choir under Lorna Cooke de Varon made at Boston's Symphony Hall in 1958 was one of my most treasured LP sets. Now it's been transferred to CD, and in spite of some significant gripes about the transfer to CD, this is one of those rare occasions when everything comes together: Conductor, Orchestra, Soloists, Chorus, and original Recording Production to produce a breathtaking musical statement.

In my opinion, this is one of the finest performances recorded of Beethoven's Ninth available, including Toscanini's! From the opening majestic Allegro (but not too much so), through the driving Molto Vivace (a theme once used for closing credits for NBC Nightly News... "Good Night, Chet. Good Night, David!"), on to the sweeping Adagio with a very sustained but understated rhythm, to the wonderous solo singing and choral finale, this recording excites by its cohesive yet dynamic structure and wonderfully preserved sonics. Albeit very marred by some overload, "puncher", or limiter distortion which is tragically, very evident on the louder passages.
Maybe it was his Alsace birthright, but Munch, remembered for his outstanding, and somewhat spontaneous interpretations of French music, applied an overview to Beethoven's masterpiece that knits the entire massive work into a performance that flows, overwhelms, and excites, but never seems overblown in theatrics. And it's all accomplished in less than 63 minutes!
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