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Huntley Dent
Fanfare, November 2014

BEETHOVEN, L. van: Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5 / Die Geschopfe des Prometheus (excerpts) (Munch) (NTSC) ICAD5016
HAYDN, J.: Symphony No. 98 / BRUCKNER, A.: Symphony No. 7 (Munch) (NTSC) ICAD5028
MENDELSSOHN, Felix: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 (Munch) (NTSC) ICAD5039
SCHUMANN, R.: Genoveva Overture / Symphony No. 2 / SCHUBERT, F.: Symphony No. 5 (Munch) (1959-1962) (NTSC) ICAD5052
HANDEL, G.F.: Water Music Suite (arr. H. Harty) / MOZART, W.A.: Symphonies Nos. 36 and 38 (Munch) (NTSC) ICAD5057

It’s admirable that ICA’s Legacy series preserves on DVD historical music-making that languishes on the shelves in outmoded formats. My interest was drawn to the conductor’s technique.

The best thing about these broadcasts is that they display Munch’s well-known trait for being at his best in concert. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Daniel Morrison
Fanfare, May 2012

[Charles Munch's] performances are fluent, with tremendous energy and pacing that is urgent but flexible. He does not probe for inner detail like some conductor…but rather favors a more unified, massed orchestral sonority, in which all essential voices are nonetheless heard in the proper context.

The concerts excerpted on this DVD took place not in the orchestra’s own Symphony Hall but in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre and were recorded for broadcast on Boston’s public TV station WGBH…the sound is reasonably clear, with good, undistorted treble response.

The camera spends much time scrutinizing individual players and sections, and tends to hold a given shot for a substantial length of time, which is desirable. To the extent they can be discerned, his facial expressions are restrained, although conveying a certain eagerness and flickers of excitement and even ecstasy in climactic moments.

The movement nonetheless flows nicely in both [Mendelssohn] performances [live and studio recorded]…the concert performance is more extreme and dramatic, the studio recording better controlled and to me more persuasive, with clearer and cleaner articulation by the orchestra…Both performances are notable for their fiery intensity, tonal weight, and striking tempo contrasts.

The two performances of the “Italian” Symphony are more straightforward, and the differences between them are less pronounced…Both are distinguished by tight ensemble, a unified yet transparent orchestral texture, incisive attacks, strong vertical stresses, and phrasing that seems precise and well coordinated…These qualities predictably are easier to appreciate in the clearer sound of the studio recording…Munch gives a richly textured, forceful, and compelling rendition of the Masonic Funeral Music.

Munch leads an orchestra that is all male except for the principal flutist (the legendary Doriot Anthony Dwyer) and one cellist.

I recommend this DVD to those wishing to observe Munch on the podium and the orchestra responding to his direction… © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

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