C1972. CHARLES MUNCH Cond. ORTF S.O.: Maurerische Trauermusik, K.477 (Mozart); w.Agnes Giebel, Marga Hoffgen, Gerhard Unger & Thomas Stewart: 'Choral' Symphony #9 in d (Beethoven). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1216, Live Performance, 27 June, 1963, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, Chartres, France. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“While a search of various online sites reveals the only previously issued recording of the Beethoven Ninth by Munch to be his 1959 studio rendition with the Boston Symphony….But for those seeking a live alternative in this work by Munch - who could be a very different creature between concerts and the studio, or even from performance to performance - this is the only one available for purchase. It is, shall we say, a very Gallic performance, with the instrumentalists having the distinctive tang of the French instrumental tradition….The approach is one of high-octane energy and febrile excitement, having Toscanini’s drive and impetuosity but more flexibility and warmth. In the finale here the solo quartet is solid but not on the same plane as that of the studio recording. On the instrumental side, the fourth hornist cracks a note in his extended solo passage (shades of Bayreuth 1951 with Furtwängler), and in the closing bars of the finale the subsidiary trumpet parts suddenly take on outsized prominence and almost drowns out the rest of the orchestra. The recorded sound is passable but nondescript and lacking in depth. In sum, while this provides another look at Munch’s art, anyone interested in his way with this work should simply stick with the studio recording.
The preceding brief Mozart work, played well enough, appears to be a unique addition to the Munch discography, and so ironically may be the greater draw of this disc for collectors. As usual, St. Laurent provides tray cards with photos plus tracking information but no notes.”
- James A. Altena, FANFARE
"It's difficult to articulate what makes Munch's conducting special - or indeed if there even is anything identifiably unique about it. A lesser talent would simply turn out generic, cookie-cutter performances; but Munch was anything but generic. He was one of the most musical of conductors; in so many of his performances, everything simply sounds 'right'. Certainly, his experience as an orchestral musician gave him a lot of practical insight into the mechanics of directing orchestra traffic. But a classic Munch interpretation never sounds calculated. Spontaneity was one of his hallmarks, sometimes to the surprise and discomfort of the musicians playing under him. From one night to the next, a Munch performance of the same piece might be very different, depending on his mood of the moment - yet it would always sound like Munch."
- Lawrence Hansen, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov. /Dec., 2012
"When you played a concert with Charles Munch or attended one of his performances as a listener, it was not just a concert - It was an event. He never used the same palette twice. As a player, you had to give 110% of yourself, or be left out of the music."
-Vic Firth, percussionist, Boston Symphony Orchestra