Pierre Monteux

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel; Sadko

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Even though these recordings by Pierre Monteux properly should be considered historical, there is no reason why audiophiles should avoid this important reissue from Archipel, because the noise problems in the two filler pieces are not so great as to prevent enjoyment of the album's main work, which is remarkable. In fact, the 1958 performance of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra has phenomenal reproduction for a mono recording that has been digitally transferred, and the crisp playing and clean acoustics are still quite fresh sounding, even by modern standards, despite a certain rich haziness that attends the string section. The symphony is briskly paced and the ensemble is precise and vigorous, and there is no wallowing in sentimentality in this straightforward rendition. Monteux displays a similar dryness and efficiency in his 1958 performance of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Introduction and Wedding Procession from The Golden Cockerel, performed by the Orchestre National de France, and in the suite from Sadko, recorded in 1945 with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, though the sound of both is considerably more compressed and less pristine than in the Tchaikovsky. Most listeners should seek out the Rimsky-Korsakov pieces in clearer sounding recordings, but because the Tchaikovsky is such an exceptional recording, anyone can derive pleasure from hearing it, despite its evident limitations for its time.

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