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CD Review

RCA Gold Seal Classics

* David Oistrakh, violin
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch
RCA Gold Seal 09026-60683-2
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The Charles Munch era produced some of the greatest recordings of French music ever. In Boston, Munch was gifted with one of the greatest orchestras in the United States, one which could ideally produce the results envisioned by such a tremendous artist. His legacy has been well-served by RCA, especially lately due to some fine box sets, but curiously the repertoire that he was famed for has not gotten the same kind of attention. While no one is more pleased that his efforts on behalf of the Romantics have been better explored, credit is due to the records that a generation grew up on.

Now, Chausson is hardly a composer with whom many listeners are familiar, but his music is distinctive, and a logical successor to that of Franck. The Poéme is justly beloved, but the Symphony is a major artistic statement. Both performances here are superb; Paul Paray's performance of the symphony is wonderful (and made in my hometown of Detroit), but there is no way that the Detroit forces could possibly match the Bostonians. Munch was a tremendous advocate of Franck, so his success in Chausson is no surprise. What is a surprise is that RCA hasn't bothered to put these readings on anything but imports…it would make a delightful "Living Stereo" entry.

Both concerted works feature the great virtuoso David Oistrakh, and the disc is worth having for these 20-plus minutes alone. Munch was one of Heifetz's few regular collaborators on disc, and Oistrakh's more gentle temperament must have meshed well with the maestro. On evidence here, it was a successful partnership. Both works feature incredible, warm playing from everyone involved. You'll love it. Buy this with confidence.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman