Charles Munch

Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9

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The hybrid SACD format is ideal for reissuing RCA Red Seal's early two- and three-channel stereo recordings, and Charles Münch's vibrant recordings of Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, "Unfinished," and the Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great," especially benefit from this state-of-the-art technology. Recorded in 1955 and 1958, respectively, these performances with the phenomenal Boston Symphony Orchestra sound magnificent with the spacious separation and the close simulation of a real orchestral environment made possible by DSD and multichannel remastering. Beyond the superb audio quality, these recordings are fascinating documents of Münch's elegant interpretations of Schubert. Known mostly as a conductor of the French Romantic repertoire, Münch was less closely associated with the Austro-Germanic symphonic literature, so his Schubert might seem a little outside the tradition, especially because of his lighter-than-air touch, elegant phrasing, fleet tempos, and utter avoidance of hysteria or bombast. The "Unfinished" is enjoyable for its refined dynamics and delicate sonorities, especially in the woodwinds; while "The Great" practically takes flight on its buoyant rhythms and seems quite propulsive in the Finale. This is the first time these performances have been paired in RCA's Living Stereo series, and the affordable reissue price puts this terrific matchup well within reach of classical beginners and budget-conscious connoisseurs.

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