BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 – Boston Symphony Orchestra/ Charles Munch – HDTT

by | Oct 4, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 – Boston Symphony Orchestra/ Charles Munch – HDTT 96K/24bit DVD-R, 37:25 ***:

My former music professor at SUNY and Hunter College, Phillip Friedheim, used to laud Charles Munch on his interpretation of the Brahms Second Symphony, recalling a performance at Tanglewood where an audience member became so enthralled by the electricity of execution in the final movement that “he stood up and conducted, standing at his seat, right along with Munch, finished on the beat and then collapsed, totally spent.” Taken from a RCA 2-Track prerecorded tape, this elegant transfer captures Munch in an autumnal mood, indeed, often from deep inside his wind and string sections, where rumblings and horn riffs accompany silken figures in the strings. The exalted cello line of the BSO is in high relief, the pizzicati strings and tympani urging the motion forward in the opening Allegro non troppo.

Like his compatriot Monteux, Munch does not transform the D Major Symphony into German metaphysics. A bucolic, often sinewy elasticity of phrase permeates the sound space, with a deep resonance in the cello and bass lines. Even the darker hues of the Adagio non troppo emanate great passionate heart and an Italianate vocalism, a Mediterranean spirit. Rarely has the Allegretto grazioso (mislabeled on the back label) sounded so directly a first cousin to the Serenade in D, Op. 11. Brisk tempos, wicked string and woodwind attacks keep this affectionate version on its toes. Without preliminaries, the Finale erupts out of the opening motifs, a series of punctuated lightning bolts interrupted by woodwinds’ pipings and strings’ nostalgia. The development section has us plummeting through space again, only to find brief respite before a voluptuous rush to judgment, the stretti having mounted to a thick paste. And at long last, the coda tumbles its wayward course to a brilliantly graduated conclusion, which had me, too, conducting to the final beat. If the HDTT people care to, the Munch Schumann Spring Symphony could easily also bear this high-voltage restoration.

— Gary Lemco

Related Reviews
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01
Logo Pure Pleasure