The Legacy of Charles Munch
Charles Munch
Label
Decca
Catalogue No.
4840219
Barcode
00028948402199
Format
CD
About

The inspirational French maestro on disc: an unrivalled retrospective, covering three decades of incandescent music-making, including recordings new to CD and long unavailable, newly remastered and comprehensively documented.

In the memories of most record-buyers, Charles Munch was indelibly and almost exclusively associated with the RCA label, thanks to a string of spectacular albums made during his thirteen-year-long tenure as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From telecasts of that era too is fixed the image of the white-haired, square-jawed maestro urging on his Boston musicians to ever greater heights of intensity with gestures of both elemental passion and delicious legerdemain.

These qualities were also present, however, in the recordings made by Munch for several other labels throughout his career. They have now been brought together by Eloquence in a set that offers the most rounded portrait yet of the conductor throughout his career. His earliest recordings were made in Paris for Polydor and for L’Oiseau-Lyre in 1938, of concertante works by Ravel, Widor (the rarely heard Fantasie for piano and orchestra) and Haydn: these have been newly transferred from original masters by Mark Obert-Thorn.

From the beginning of his postwar contract with Decca come London-made recordings of French repertoire (Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy, Fauré, Franck, Ravel, Roussel, Saint-Saëns) and Austro-German symphonies (Beethoven 8, Mendelssohn 5, Schumann 4), conducting the orchestra of the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris which he had led since 1939. In these performances, sustained throughout by a sweeping legato line, we may recall Munch’s insistence that ‘To be a conductor is not a métier but rather a sacred rite’. This is no less true of a ragged but thrilling ‘Pathétique’ Symphony from 1948, now recorded in Paris.

After the Boston years, Munch struck up a partnership with the New Philharmonia Orchestra (1965–57), which yielded albums of Bizet, Offenbach and Respighi in which the conjuror’s magic fire remained undimmed. He also returned with them to a suite from Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane ballet which was always a Munch favourite in concert. His last studio account – from Budapest in 1966 – of the Symphonie fantastique is also here, having appeared on Fidelio, Hungaroton and Philips, but long unavailable. The set concludes with more Berlioz – Munch’s sole recording for Deutsche Grammophon, of the Grande messe des morts. This was made in Munich in 1967, the year before his death, and is a moving testament to the conductor’s career-long dedication to realizing the most original orchestral and acoustic possibilities explored by a composer who, like Munch himself, always went his own way.

Track Listing / Artists

CD 1*

MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)

1 Piano Concerto for the Left Hand                                                                         

Jacqueline Blancard, piano

Orchestre de la Société Philharmonique de Paris

 

CHARLES-MARIE WIDOR (1844–1937)

2 Fantasie for Piano and Orchestra                                                                         

Marcelle Herrenschmidt, piano

Orchestre de la Société Philharmonique de Paris

 

FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN (1732–1809)

3–5 Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major, Hob.I:105                                               

Roland Charmy, violin

André Navarra, cello

Fernand Oubradous, bassoon

Myrtil Morel, oboe

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris

 

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)

6–7 Adagio and Fugue in C minor, KV 546                                                               

Grand Symphony Orchestra

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 2*                                                                                                                          

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)

1–4 Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93                                                                   

 

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847)

5–8 Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 107 ‘Reformation’                                        

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 3                                                                                                                                        

HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803–1869)

1 Benvenuto Cellini – Overture                                                                                

2–4 Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17 – Scènes                                                                   

5 Les Troyens – Chasse royale et orage                                                                   

6 Le Corsaire – Overture, Op. 21                                                                               

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris

 

 

CD 4*                

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810–1856)

1–4 Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120                                                                

 

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–1897)

5–7 Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77                                                                    

Ossy Renardy, violin (Brahms)

London Philharmonic Orchestra (Schumann)

Concertgebouworkest (Brahms)

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 5      

CÉSAR FRANCK (1822–1890)

1 Variations symphoniques                                                                                      

2–4 Symphony in D minor

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1891)

5 Le Rouet d’Omphale, Op. 31*                                                                                

6 Danse macabre, Op. 40*                                                                                        

Eileen Joyce, piano (Franck: Variations symphoniques)

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris (Franck; Saint-Saëns: Le Rouet d’Omphale)

Concertgebouworkest (Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre)

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 6*                                                                                                                          

GEORGES BIZET (1838–1875)

1–4 Symphony in C major

5 La Jolie fille de Perth – Danse bohémienne

 

GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845–1924)

6–9 Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80 – Suite                                                                 

10 Pavane, Op. 50                                                                                                     

 

VINCENT D’INDY (1851–1931)

11 Fervaal, Op. 40 – Prélude (Act I)

London Philharmonic Orchestra (Bizet; Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande)

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris (Fauré: Pavane; d’Indy)

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 7*                                                                                                                          

SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891–1953)

1–4 Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25 ‘Classical’                                                 

 

PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)

5–8 Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 ‘Pathétique’                                            

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 8*                                                                                                                        

CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862–1918)

1–3 Ibéria (No. 2 of Images pour orchestra)                                                           

4 Berceuse héroïque                                                                                               

 

ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869–1937)

5–7 Petite Suite, Op. 39                                                                                          

8–14 Le Festin de l’araignée, Op. 17 – Fragments symphoniques                       

15–17 Suite in F major, Op. 33                                                                               

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris (Debussy, Roussel: Petite Suite)

London Philharmonic Orchestra (Roussel: Le Festin de l’araignée, Suite in F major)

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

CD 9      

MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)

1–3 Piano Concerto in G major°                                                                               

4–5 Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 1*                                                                        

6–8 Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 2*                                                                        

9 Boléro*                                                                                                                   

Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer, piano (Concerto)

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris

*FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA

°FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 10                

JACQUES OFFENBACH (1819–1880)

Arranged by Manuel Rosenthal (1904–2003)

1–21 Gaîté Parisienne                                                                                               

 

GEORGES BIZET (1838–1875)

22–28 Carmen – Suite                                                                                               

New Philharmonia Orchestra

 

 

CD 11                

OTTORINO RESPIGHI (1879–1936)

1–4 Pini di Roma

5–8 Fontane di Roma                                                                                                

 

GEORGES BIZET (1838–1875)

9–13 L’Arlésienne – Suite                                                                                         

 

New Philharmonia Orchestra

 

 

CD 12*  

HENRY BARRAUD (1900–1997)

1–4 Symphony No. 3                                                                                                 

 

ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869–1937)

5–8 Bacchus et Ariane, Op. 43 – Ballet Suite No. 2                                                 

Orchestre National de la RTF

*FIRST INTERNATIONAL CD RELEASE ON DECCA

 

 

CD 13                                                                                                                          

HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803–1869)

1–5 Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14                                                                         

Hungarian Radio and Television Orchestra

 

6–7 Requiem, Op. 5 (Grande messe des morts) beginning

 

 

CD 14                

1–8 Requiem, Op. 5 (Grande messe des morts) conclusion

Peter Schreier, tenor

Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks

Wolfgang Schubert, chorus master

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

CHARLES MUNCH

 

Recording information

CD 1

Ravel, Widor:

Recording: Paris, France, January 1938 (Ravel), February 1938 (Widor)

Matrix Nos: 1125½ / 1126½ / 1127 / 1128½ GPP (Ravel); 1157 / 1158½ / 1159 / 1160½ GPP (Widor)

Original Polydor Releases: 566.192-93 (Ravel, 1938); 566.205-06 (Widor, 1938)

 

Haydn, Mozart:

Recording: Paris, France, October 1938 (Haydn); February 1939 (Mozart)

Matrix Nos.: PART 1285-90 (Haydn); PART 1422-23 (Mozart)

Original L’Oiseau-Lyre Releases: OL 83-85 (Haydn, 1938); OL 93 (Mozart, 1939)

 

CD 2

Recording Producer: Terence Gibbs

Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 29 September–2 October 1947

Matrix Nos.: AR 11581-86 (Beethoven); AR 11587-93 (Mendelssohn)

Original Decca Releases: AK 1933-35 / LX 3053 (Beethoven, August 1949); K 1715-18 (Mendelssohn, February 1948)

 

CD 3

Recording Producers: Victor Olof (Benvenuto Cellini, Le Corsaire); unknown (Roméo et Juliette, Les Troyens)

Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson (Benvenuto Cellini, Le Corsaire); unknown (Roméo et Juliette, Les Troyens)

Recording Locations: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 11 October 1946 (Benvenuto Cellini); La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, France, 27 May 1948 (Le Corsaire), 30–31 May 1949 (Roméo et Juliette, Les Troyens)

Matrix Nos.: AR 10709-11 (Benvenuto Cellini); FAR 64-66 (Roméo et Juliette: 1), FAR 67-69 (Roméo et Juliette: 2), FAR 62-63 (Roméo et Juliette: 3); FAR 60-61 (Les Troyens); FAR 32-33 (Le Corsaire)

Original Decca Releases: LXT 2677 (Benvenuto Cellini, March 1952); AX 293-95 (Roméo et Juliette: 1 & 2, January 1950), X 281 (Roméo et Juliette: 3, December 1949), LXT 2512 (Roméo et Juliette: 1–3, 1950); X 301 / LXT 2512 (Les Troyens, February 1950); Decca K 1948; LXT 2677 (Le Corsaire, October 1948)

 

CD 4

Recording Producer: Victor Olof

Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 4 June 1947 (Schumann); Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 13–14 September 1948 (Brahms)

Matrix Nos.: AR 11332-37 (Schumann); HAR 41-50 (Brahms)

Original Decca Releases: AK 2022-24 / LLP 468 (Schumann, February 1950); AK 2055-59 / LXT 2566 (Brahms, January 1949)

 

CD 5

Recording Producers: Victor Olof (Franck, Saint-Saens: Danse macabre); Terence Gibbs (Saint-Saëns: Le Rouet d’Omphale)

Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording Locations: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 11 October 1946 (Franck, Saint-Saëns: Le Rouet d’Omphale); Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 15 September 1948 (Saint-Saens: Danse macabre)

Matrix Nos.: AR 10714-17 (Franck: Variations symphoniques); AR 10701-08 (Franck: Symphony); AR 10712-13 (Saint-Saëns: Le Rouet d’Omphale); HAR 51-52 (Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre)

Original Decca Releases: K 1587-88 / LXT 2692 (Franck: Variations symphoniques, June 1947); K 1639-42 / LXT 2692 (Franck: Symphony, February 1948); K 1695 (Saint-Saëns: Le Rouet d’Omphale, March 1949); K 2069 (Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre, January 1949)

 

CD 6

Recording Producer: Victor Olof

Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 3 June 1947 (Bizet: Symphony), 5 June 1947 (Bizet: La Jolie fille de Perth, Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande), 4 October 1947 (d’Indy); Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 9 October 1946 (Fauré: Pavane)

Matrix Nos.: AR 11325-31 (Bizet: Symphony); AR 11342 (Bizet: La Jolie fille de Perth); AR 11338-41 (Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande); AR 10679 (Fauré: Pavane); AR 11605 (d’Indy)

Original Decca Releases: K 1781-84 (Bizet: Symphony, La Jolie fille de Perth, March 1948); K 1740-41 (Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande, February 1950); K 1644 (Fauré: Pavane, April 1948); K 1718 (d’Indy, February 1948)

 

CD 7

Recording Producer: Victor Olof

Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 4 October 1947 (Prokofiev); La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, France, 24–27 May 1948 (Tchaikovsky)

Matrix nos.: AR 11606-09 (Prokofiev); FAR 14-25 (Tchaikovsky)

Original Decca Releases: K 1756-57 / LXT 2522 (Prokofiev, November 1948); AK 1968-73 / LXT 2544 (Tchaikovsky, November 1948)

 

CD 8

Recording Producer: Victor Olof

Balance Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 29 September–2 October 1947 (Debussy: Ibéria, Berceuse héroique), 2 June 1947 (Roussel: Suite in F major), 6 June 1947 (Roussel: Le Festin de l’araignée); Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 9 October 1946 (Roussel: Petite Suite)

Matrix Nos.: AR 11594-98 (Debussy: Ibéria); AR 11599 (Debussy: Berceuse héroïque); AR 11321-24 (Roussel: Suite in F major); AR 10680-82 (Roussel: Petite Suite); AR 11343-46 (Roussel: Le Festin de l’araignée)

Original Decca Releases: K 1763-65 (Debussy: Ibéria, Berceuse héroique, August 1949); K 1643-44 (Roussel: Petite Suite, April 1948); K 1772-73 (Roussel: Suite in F major, 1948); Decca K 1691-92 (Roussel: Le Festin de l’araignée, February 1950)

 

CD 9

Recording Producers: unknown (Piano Concerto); Victor Olof (Daphnis et Chloé); Terence Gibbs (Boléro)

Balance Engineers: unknown (Piano Concerto); Kenneth Wilkinson (Daphnis et Chloé, Boléro)

Recording Locations: La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, France, June 1949 (Piano Concerto);

Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 9 October 1946 (Daphnis et Chloé), 10 October 1946 (Boléro)

Matrix Nos.: FAR 70-75 (Piano Concerto); AR 10683-84 (Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 1); AR 10685-88 (Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 2); AR 10689-92 (Boléro)

Original Decca Releases: LXT 2565 (Ravel: Piano Concerto, March 1951); K 1584 (Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 1, June 1947); K 1585-86 (Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 2, June 1947); K 1637-38 (Boléro, December 1947)

 

CD 10

Recording Producer: Tony d’Amato

Balance Engineer: Arthur Lilley

Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 10–11 December 1965 (Offenbach), 4–5 January 1967 (Bizet)

Original Decca Releases: PFS 4096 (Offenbach, September 1966); PFS 4127 (Bizet, September 1967)

 

CD 11

Recording Producer: Tony d’Amato

Balance Engineer: Arthur Lilley

Recording Location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 4–5 January 1967

Original Decca Releases: PFS 4131 (Respighi, January 1968); PFS 4127 (Bizet, September 1967)

 

CD 12

Producer: Claude Samuel

Recording: Paris, France, 10 December 1961

Original Véga Release: C30ST 20 035

 

CD 13

Tracks 1-5

Recording Producer and Engineer: László Ujházy

Recording Location: Budapest, Hungary, 15 April 1966

Original Philips Release: 426 103-2 (1989)

 

CD 13 (Tracks 6 -7) and CD 14

Executive Producer: Otto Gerdes

Recording Producer: Hans Weber

Balance Engineers: Günter Hermanns, Hans-Peter Schweigmann

Editing: Joachim Niss

Recording Location: Herkulessaal, Munich, Germany, 6–8 July 1967 (Overdubbing of Peter Schreier’s solo to pre-recorded orchestral track taped on 21 February 1968 in Vienna)

Original Deutsche Grammophon Release: 2707 032 (1968)

 

MONO RECORDINGS: CDs 1–9

STEREO RECORDINGS: CDs 10–14

Audio Restoration / Remastering: Mark Obert-Thorn, Chris Bernauer

Reviews

‘A wonderful piece of playing, back up by superb recording which captures every detail of the large score and yet maintains a true overall perspective and fidelity.’ Gramophone, February 1950 (Berlioz: excerpts from Roméo et Juliette)

‘Munch’s second recording of Berlioz’s setting of the Requiem Mass resonates to a vision recognising that the devil is in the quiet detail, and that (paradoxically) intimacy triumphs.’ BBC Music magazine, January 2012 (Requiem)

‘Even the often-staid Scène aux champs is fraught with nervous energy. Munch is on far more freewheeling, maniacal form than in his inspired-enough Boston Symphony studio recordings.’ Classics Today, January 2006 (Symphonie fantastique)

‘The orchestral playing is vivid in the extreme … Munch plays both suites for all they’re worth … and all the big moments are brilliantly contrived.’ Gramophone, August 1976 (Respighi)

‘A special tribute, in reviewing this outstanding recording, should go to Charles Munch, not only for his beautiful orchestral accompaniment, but for the sense of direction and authority that he has so obviously impressed upon the whole performance.’ Gramophone, September 1947 (Franck: Variations symphoniques)