Notes & Reviews:
Sony Classical has released an unparalleled reissue of Pierre Monteux's RCA Victor recordings. They are being issued together for the first time in a single original jacket collection of 40 CDs.
Each and every recording in this new 40-CD set comes from the best source, including previous Living Stereo, SACD and XRCD reissues. Many others have been newly re-mastered from the original 78-rpm matrices or tapes. Most of Monteux's now legendary recordings for RCA were made between 1941 and 1961 with the two US orchestras he served as music director: the Boston Symphony (1919-24) and San Francisco Symphony (1936-52). Naturally they contain music he had introduced to the world decades earlier, for example Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (recorded in Boston on 78s in 1945 and on LP in 1951) and Petrushka (recorded in Boston, 1959) as well as Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales and Daphnis et Chloé.
His RCA French discography also contains multiple recordings of Debussy's Images, La Mer and Nocturnes, Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and works by Chausson and d'Indy. And then there is his peerless interpretation of the Franck Symphony in D Minor. Monteux recorded that symphony in San Francisco in 1941 and 1950, then once again with the Chicago Symphony in 1961. Those were his last RCA sessions, and the recording it yielded is still universally regarded as the work's finest ever.
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
As to recorded sound, both the San Francisco and Boston recordings have their high and low moments, and the same is true of the restoration work performed by various hands according to various principles. Mostly it is good, sometimes astonishingly good. Much care went into the production of a set which is a pleasure to touch and look at as well as to listen to. The collection is much more generous. In fact, the best reason for purchase is the earlier San Francisco recordings, important as the fullest realization on disc of what Monteux's way as a conductor. Like his peers Furtwangler and Toscanini, Stokowski and Beecham, he was a brilliant one-off. His profound understanding of music came from being there at the creation of so many great works - indeed at the creation of the art of conducting itself.