Munch/BSO: Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 "Organ" - RCA RB-16214 (UK)
Jacket EX / LP EX / UK pressing
This handsome LP from RCA (RB-16214, UK pressing, red/silver label, mono) features Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s classic recording of Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 in C minor Op. 78 ‘Organ Symphony’ (with pianists Leo Litwin and Berbard Zighera, and organist Berj Zamkochian), sumptuously recorded in the rich acoustics of Symphony Hall, Boston, on 5 April 1959.
Some 55 years after its first issue, in surveys of this work on record, Munch’s reading consistently remains at or near the top, a not unremarkable feat given the extraordinary number of recordings this audience favorite has received, eclipsing such worthy latter-day challengers as Barenboim, Levine, Ozawa, Jansons, Dutoit, et al.
From first to last there is a freshness and inventiveness of interpretation, allied to virtuoso playing, and in the finale, a majesty that has remained undimmed since RCA taped this performance in what will soon be a half-century ago. A recording to make one wonder anew at Saint-Saën’s marvellous conception.
Wrote the wonderful author and critic David Hurwitz for ClassicsToday:
“Still the greatest recording of the Organ Symphony ever made, this latest remastering sounds even grander than the previous Living Stereo incarnation, with a more present and bass-rich organ making a positively cataclysmic experience out of the finale (sound sample attached). Fun as the loud bits are, to be honest it’s the sweetness of the strings in the slow movement, and the amazing way Munch gets the orchestra to really dig into the agitated rhythm of the first movement’s main theme, that together set the seal on this interpretation. He gives the theoretically cooly “classical” Saint-Saëns a remarkable range of expressive depth.”
There are informative liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket by R.D. Darrell, printed in English only. The remarkable cover design is uncredited, alas.
This album was produced by Richard Mohr and engineered by Lewis Layton.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is EXCELLENT. The only flaw barring a NM grading concerns some light corner wear. Otherwise, this rates as a truly excellent collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. Although the surfaces are not perfectly silent, really this is a fine copy and playback is superb, close to NM. If you must have a flawless or NM copy, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, rates as an excellent collector's copy.