Monteux/BSO: Tchaikovsky "Pathetique" Symphony: RCA VICS-1009 (plum, 2S/2S)
Jacket VG- / LP EX
This handsome LP from RCA Victrola (VICS-1009, US pressing, plum/silver label – ED1, 2S/2S stampers, stereo) features conductor Pierre Monteux and the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s stirring account of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor Op. 74 “Pathetique”, made in the warm acoustics of Symphony Hall, Boston, on 26 January 1955.
Produced by John Pfeiffer and engineered by Lewis Layton, this stunning performance was recorded during the conductor’s rich Indian summern and remains a landmark performance from the “golden age of stereo”.
Of RCA/BMG’s “Red Seal Living Stereo” CD re-issue of this performance the superb critic and editor David Hurwitz wrote for ClassicsToday:
“Pierre Monteux was one of those conductors who could make the most anguished music sound effortless. You might think that this isn't an advantage in the Pathétique Symphony, but it is. His innate musicality keeps the allegro sections of the first movement pressing smartly forward, while the lyrical second subject never turns sticky. Other performances may be noisier, but Monteux's cogency offers its own exciting and perfectly valid argument. Certainly no one would take issue with the idiomatic lilt he brings to the second-movement waltz, or with the rhythmic lift he provides in the ensuing march (this really is Tchaikovsky as his most French, isn't it?). There have been more intense accounts of the finale, but the beautiful playing of the Boston Symphony and Monteux's refusal to get hysterical remain all of a piece: it's a very satisfying reading by any standard.”
Incidentally, the unusual liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket attempt to reconstruct, via various letters written by the composer to friends and colleagues, Tchaikovsky’s last days and the genesis of the “Pathetique” Symphony. The front cover art is uncredited.