SALZBURG FESTIVAL OOPENING CONCERTS
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt
C MAJOR 713508 (4 disks)
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CHARLES MUNCH - BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - 1958-1952
ICA CLASSICS 5130 (5 disks)
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These Salzburg Festival concerts were issued some time ago. The 2009 concert was led by Nicholaus Harnoncourt and featured Six German Dances of Schubert arranged by Anton Webern, Schubert's Symphony No. 9, and three works of Josef Strauss (two polkas and a waltz). 2010 featured Daniel Barenboim both as pianist and conductor, a program with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, Notations by Boulez, and Bruckner's Te Deum. The 2008 concert featured Pierre Boulez on the podium with Daniel Barenboim playing Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2, a program that opened with Ravel's Noble and Sentimental Waltzes and ended with Stravinsky's complete Firebird (REVIEW). The 2011 concert also was conducted by Boulez and with two works of Berg (a suite from Lulu and Der Wein) and Mahler's Das Klagende Lied (REVIEW). In this specially-priced 4-disk set, the collector gets four concerts for the price of three, a somewhat modest discount.

In recent years, ICA Classics has resurrected a number of televised programs by the Boston Symphony under their then music director, Charles Munch. This new 5-disk compilation contains the following works from the early years of their telecasts, 1958-1962:

BEETHOVEN: Symphonies 4 and 5. Excerpts from Prometheus.
HAYDN: Symphony No. 98.
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7
MENDELSSOHN: Symphonies 3 and 4.
MOZART: Symphonies 36 and 38. Masonic Funeral Music.
SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 2. Genoveva Overture
SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 5.
HANDEL: Water Music Suite (arr. Harty)

It always is a pleasure to watch this dynamic conductor, even in standard non-French repertory. However, these are early TV broadcasts in black and white presented in Sanders Theatre of Harvard University,a venue with dubious acoustics far removed from the rich sounds of Symphony Hall. The famed BSO sounds thin and dynamic range is restricted. Video direction is primitive, often unclear. Admirers of Munch surely will be interested, others should approach with caution. This 4-disk compilation is offered at a modest discount.

R.E.B. (December 2014)

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