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Reviews: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 - Monteux

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Reviews: 5

Review by JW September 25, 2004 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Just finished listening to the Monteux Tchaikovski - Symphony Pathétique. Very impressive. Beautiful recording, big and deep soundstage. Luscious sound. A slight opaqueness, but it does not disturb me. Great performance as far as I could tell. Only 15% of my collection is Classical. I tend to focus on Jazz and Rock. Better than the Sony/Columbia's - Brahms, Mozart etc ? I am just playing the Bruno Walter Brahms Symphony No.4. On my system the treble is harder, the soundstage is very good, but not as expansive as the Living Stereo. Also the presentation is a little more forward. There seems to be slightly less dynamic range.

There are differences. The Sony's sound excellent, but they have a stridency in the treble regions (the Brahms is an exception). The Living Stereo sounds truly magnificient. On my system I would choose it to demo Classical orchestral music. Compared with the brighter, crisper Sony's the LS gets the nod. If you have not yet heard the Sony's (single layer SACD's) you should get them (and check out those excellent reviews by Messr's Russell, DkB and sgb waaay back on - some re-printed here as well.)


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Review by tream October 2, 2004 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This performance was dissed in The Absolute Sound's overview of the Living Stereo releases, both for performance and to a lesser extent, sound. He even indicated that the BSO sounded like "a bad French orchestra". Monteux is a conductor I admire, so I was not sure what to expect when I put this disc on. I'm pleased to report that TAS has it wrong.
Monteux begins the opening movement in a highly objective way, stressing the relationship of this symphony to the ballets, especially the Nutcracker. You notice the beautiful playing of the BSO-especially the woodwinds, despite the comment above, and that this is a recording of great depth despite having been made in 1955! However, Monteux shifts gears at the famous tutti that begins the development section and whips the orchestra into a frenzy. While the approach is not quite so heart on sleeve and subjective as some, it is still remarkable. I could good into detail about the remainder, but suffice to say that I found this recording to be a viable performance, and the sonics excellent.
My own touchstones for the Pathetique have been Toscanini's NBC reading (I acquired the LP in 1971) and Mravinsky on DG with the then Leningrad Philharmonic-the latter being an example of a highly subjective reading. As a contrast, I never cared for the highly regarded Guilini reading-too slow for my taste.
As a recording, this is not as good as the Munch Ravel in the Living Stereo series, but that one is simply amazing. It is astonishing to realize that this recording and the Toscanini were made roughly 8 years apart, yet this one is still live and sounds current, while the Toscanini feels like a recording made in the mid 20th century.

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Review by thepilot October 18, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Here we just miss the last ounce of drama that Mravinsky has in that symphony and the sound could have been a little bit smoother and sweeter on top. I agree, a very good reissue but four stars in performance and sound quality.

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Review by Ivymike August 3, 2005 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
An early 2 track, 1/4", 30 ips recording taped in January, 1955.

As to the performance, this ties with Mravinsky's as my personal favorite. Both are emotional and very moving, with a sense of deep loss and "giving up" in the final movement.

The sound is decent Living Stereo quality, not quite as stellar as that on some of the other records. I don't know pariculars about the mic set up but the hole-in-the-middle effect is still noticeable at this date, so I expect two spaced omnis were used. Tape hiss is moderate in level; the double basses actually descend into the hiss at the end of the fourth movement. The width of the soundstage isn't quite as great as that on the Strauss disc, but the sense of depth is quite good, with the shoebox shape of Symphony Hall, Boston coming through loud and clear. The sudden jump from ppp (actually marked ppppp in the clarinets on the score!) to ff about nine mintues into the first movement is not quite as dramatic as I've heard in other, more modern recordings but still possesses the power to surprise!

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Review by jeffreybehr January 3, 2014 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is the second arrival of my recent order of lots of these Living Stereo SACDs. Monteaux's performance seems rather middle-of-the-road and not very emotional--almost casual--compared with newer slower, heart-on-sleeve performances which I love, but it's still a fine performance. The Boston orchestra sounds EXCELLENT, especially compared with Reiner's sometimes-sour-sounding Chicago orchestra in the Bartok 'Concerto for Orchestra'. The 2-microphone recording sounds quite wide and deep but a bit thin in the lower four octaves, and the bassdrum that is so prominent in modern recordings is almost inaudible. Never-the-less, I enjoyed and recommend it, especially as an antidote to the typical dozens-of-mono-mics messes made by so many companies, particulary DGG*, over the six decades since this masterpiece was created.

* A Classical-music-loving friend, during an audio-club meeting and after listening to a DG Mahler recording, wondered why DG STILL hadn't learned to record an orchestra after a hundred-or-so years.

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