Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch – Living Stereo – Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 6 (2005) SACD ISO + Hi-Res FLAC

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch – Living Stereo – Beethoven: Symphonies 5 & 6 (2005)
Originally recorded May (C Minor) and August (Pastoral) 1955 in two-track stereo, remastering supervisor John Newton, along with DSD engineer Dirk Sobotka, has revitalized two of the Charles Munch Beethoven symphonies with astonishing results. The C Minor Symphony seems to have a dusty film removed and now pierces the air with a take-no-prisoners aural presence that quite literally recaptures Goethe’s first impression of this Herculean work: “When I reached for my hat at the fading of the last chord, I could not find my head.” The sonic refurbishings are too many to name, but one might hearken to the pipings of the flutes and winds in the second movement, or the tympani ostinati in the segue to the finale from a crisp, ripping Scherzo-Allegro. The purity of playing from Boston Symphony commends itself anew as well, since the brass section, except when heard live at Symphony Hall, never sounded so good.

The sonic gloss for the Pastoral is equally lovely, though I find the Munch approach to the first movement a bit hard-driven, a la Kleiber. The transition from oboe to cello line in the second movement, though, is a model of what superior American ensembles can sound like when discipline is superb. Add whiplash accuracy from clarinet, bassoon, and French horns, and you have a glamorous mix. The conception is in the Toscanini mold, long phrases and a high singing line with no repeats. But Nature unfolds itself in a colossal scheme of arches and rainbow colors. I now wonder how the Reiner Pastoral would emerge in this remastered format. I state my query because the volatility and clean, driven sweep of Munch’s strings equal anything achieved in Chicago. The Peasant Dance has Breughel shaking hands with Wagner. I could not wait for the Thunderstorm; the second time around, I raised the volume and drenched myself again. [The same Living Stereo recording of the Fifth — though not the Sixth — was also on a recent xrcd reissue which we reviewed Here. A/B comparison of the two formats showed the SACD to be sonically superior…Ed.]

–Gary Lemco audiophile audition


01-Allegro con brio
02-Andante con moto
05-Awakening of serene impressions upon arriving in the country (Allegro ma non troppo)
06-Scene by the brookside (Andante molto mosso)
07-Jolly gathering of country folk (Allegro)
08-Thunder storm (Allegro)
09-Shepherd’s Song – Gladsome and thankful feelings after the storm (Allegretto)



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