James A. Altena
, May 2012
Yet another volume appears in the ICA series of releases of Boston Symphony telecasts with Charles Munch, and this is a particularly successful one. All of the performances here are taken from concerts given in Sanders Hall at Harvard University, rather than from Symphony Hall in Boston…the audio quality in all three works is quite acceptable monaural sound…
These later performances are not only preserved in superior sound—much more so in the case of the Schubert—but are also in superior interpretations that benefit greatly from slightly slower tempi.
With Schumann, we come to a composer for whom Munch had a very special affinity. Of the composer’s four symphonies, the Second has proved to be far and away the most difficult for conductors to get right; in my estimation the number of recorded performances that exceed mere competency and achieve greatness can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Here we have one of those exalted rarities. There are no traces of leaden heaviness anywhere, and Schumann’s often dense orchestration is made to shine. The ever-tricky transition from the slow introduction to the faster main section of the first movement is nicely gauged…The finale is a model of triumphant exuberance…The rendition of the overture is on a similar plane of excellence. In sum, then, this DVD is warmly recommended to fans of Munch, aficionados of historic performances, and lovers of Schumann alike. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare