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Collection: THE FRENCH TOUCH: Paul Dukas (1865-1935) - L' aprenti sorcier Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) - Le Rouet d'Omphale Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) - Ma mère l'Oye César Franck (1822-1890) - Le chasseur maudit Charles Munch conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra RCA VICTOR 09026 68978 2 [50:38]



This celebrated collection was originally issued by RCA as one of their Living Stereo LPs. The performances date from the late 1950s.

Charles Munch was a widely cultured conductor and was famed particularly for his interpretations of the music of France and Germany, inspired by his Alsatian heritage. Born in 1891 in Strasbourg, Munch commenced his career as a violinist, serving for several years as concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwängler. He rose to become director of the orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire. After appearing as guest conductor in Europe, the Near East, South America and the United States, he became music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra on the retirement of Koussevitzky. In 1967 he became music director of the Orchestre de Paris created especially for him. He died while he was touring with that orchestra on November 6th 1968.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra was famed for its virtuoso players and fine ensemble playing. The performances, of these well-known orchestral showpieces crackle with vitality. They are striking evidence of the orchestra's well-drilled polish.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice has seldom sounded so thrilling; every detail is as sharply defined as a knats-kneecap; the visualisation of water slopping everywhere and buckets and brooms going berserk is so vivid. The wit and characterisation of this favourite fantasy is splendidly realised too, listen to how cowed and contrite the apprentice sounds in the final bars, for instance.

The sound of the Boston strings in excellent ensemble through the tortuous spinning rhythms of Omphale's's Spinning Wheel is a joy and Ravel's magic is splendidly conveyed in this Mother Goose interpretation. Munch luxuriates in all the oriental splendour of Laideronette yet his Fairy Garden and the beginning of Beauty and the Beast is delicate, dreamy, fragrant. César Franck's Accursed Huntsman is hair-raisingly exciting with horn calls that reach right out of the speakers at you.

The RCA sound which was great in its day is enhanced further in this new 20-bit remastering


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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