1 800 222 6872

Wagner: Orchestral Excerpts; Franck, Faure / Munch/Boston SO [DVD]

Album Summary

>Wagner, Richard : Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
>Franck, César : Symphony in D minor, M 48
>Fauré, Gabriel : Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80
Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Access to the publicly broadcast BSO concerts from this era has been extremely difficult even for researchers. This series of DVDs will make these performances available for the first time since they were broadcast. This material represents some of the earliest televised concerts with the Boston Symphony, and has been restored using state-of-the-art techniques. A number of the recordings he made with the BSO have sold steadily for more than 50 years and remain a permanent standard of reference. 'Munch handles the Wagner in a masterly, memorable and deeply human manner, with great

MusicWeb International
Three cheers for ICA Classics's unearthing of this historic telecast, as well as many others from the same source. Charles Munch - le beau Charles to Boston audiences - knew Franck's highly charged scores inside out and offers countless revelations in these superb and very valuable accounts.

American Record Guide
... the BSO plays brilliantly... the performance Munch leads here makes the piece sound like something Beethoven might have produced if he'd had a "French Period". From the ominous introduction to the first movement, to the blistering allegro, to the movement's wild final pages, Munch leaves no doubt that this work, for him at least, is one of the great masterpieces.

More French music completes the DVD - Fauré's concert suite from the incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande - but it is Ravel's Mother Goose Suite (this Munch conducts with the score) and particularly Debussy's Ibéria and La mer on ICAD5014 that are especially valuable. La mer was very much the Boston ensemble's property (they gave the American premiere in 1907), while sitting among Munch's players are Louis Speyer (cor anglais) and Rene Voisin (trumpet), both of whom had played in the world premiere of The Rite of Spring. In addition there are frequent shots of Doriot Dwyer (flute), then the only female section principal in any major American orchestra, appointed by Munch in 1952 (she retired in 1990). The picture quality deteriorates slightly as the vivid performance progresses, one which is a compliment to, but not a replacement for, Munch's famous 1956 RCA recording.

MusicWeb International
Fortunately, the sound quality on these TV broadcasts from Boston's WGBH public station is remarkably good, allowing us to hear the superbly rich, deep tones that Munch draws from the cellos at the opening of the Act 3 prelude to Die Meistersinger as well as the notably beautiful sounds he coaxes from both the brass and woodwinds shortly afterwards. The standard of sound reproduction never thereafter falls from that standard in either the Wagner or the Franck, although there is a slight but noticeable background crackling sound in the earliest recorded item, the Fauré, dating from 1959. The latter is inexplicably described as a "bonus" item on the disc, even though the other performances, lasting just 52 minutes or so in total, can hardly be said to amount to a full DVD ration.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 71 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3
Sound Format(s): LPCM Mono,


Outstanding performances from 1959-1961
This DVD is part of the ICA Classics Legacy series, and features some of the televised concerts by Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on WGBH, Boston’s public television channel. And if any of the other entries in this series are as good as this, then I will likely end up with a whole shelf of them.

The featured pieces are: Orchestral excerpts from Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” (beautifully performed by the orchestra), Franck’s Symphony in D minor (the 3rd movement is spectacular, and the solo work is just amazing), and finally Faure’s Pelleas et Melisande Suite (it just doesn’t get any better than this!!!). Mr. Munch conducts cleanly and from the heart, and his depth of feeling of the music seems to channel straight through to his musicians and from there to the audience. I have to wonder if season ticket sales for the BSO went through the roof after some of this footage was broadcast – it’s that good. According to the informative liner notes, Mr. Munch returned a second time to acknowledge the applause for the Franck, and the announcer (William Pierce) exclaimed, “[This] is turning out to be an ovation.” I felt the same way, as it was difficult to resist the urge to applaud.

Of course, the video quality is not quite up to Blu-ray standards owing to the time period in which it was recorded, but it is certainly good enough to see what Mr. Munch and the BSO are doing – and what really matters is the music, which comes through loud and clear. This DVD is wonderful, and I am pleased to have it in my collection.

Submitted on 01/10/12 by KlingonOpera 
Login or Create an Account to write a review

Also Purchased

Works Details

>Wagner, Richard : Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg :: Excerpt(s)
  • Conductor: Charles Munch
  • Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1867

>César Franck (1822 - 1890) : Symphony in D minor, M 48
  • Conductor: Charles Munch
  • Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1886-1888

>Gabriel Fauré (1845 - 1924) : Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80
  • Conductor: Charles Munch
  • Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1898