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Great second half
I have to agree with Daniel G. The Brahms variations are really top drawer, and was the motivating factor governing my purchase of this, as there definitely are better recordings of Petrushka here on HDTT. That's not to say this recording of Petrushka is in anyway second rate, because this is Monteux, who premiered this, and a number of Igor's works before the 1st War. However, maybe he was a little tired on the day, or the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra was out of sorts with him? The fact is, you can do better, and in fact, Monteux's recording with the Boston Symphony (also available here), is much better and more detailed. But as mentioned, buy this download for the Brahms alone; it truly is something out of the box, and well worth the expense! Gil Sullivan 4 stars - only because of the Petrushka.
No better Brahms anywhere, HDTT has a better Petrouchka from Monteux and BSO
Monteux made no secret of the fact that Brahms (who he met and played for as a young violist) was his favorite composer. This reading is an olympian blend of Reiner/Toscanini clarity and drive and Walteresque warmth, with the LSO at peak form. As to sound, the HDTT version airs the textures and sets a wonderfully broad soundstage as never before. The Brahms alone is more than worth the price. That might have gone for the Stravinsky, which Monteux premiered -- except for the fact that neither he nor RCA was really satisfied, so they redid it in 1960 in Boston -- and you can get that performance from HDTT. The difference is mainly in the playing, though the RCA Living Stereo team in Symphony Hall came up with a more crystalline and less tubby sound than the Decca crew in Paris. The Paris orchestra is adequate but clearly straining to get things right. But, which was at that time far and away the best "French" orchestra on the planet, starts far beyond where the PCO leaves off. Plus, many of the players, some of whom had played under Monteux in the 20's, probably believed they were playing their last gig with the Maitre, who was in his late 80's at the time, and outdid even themselves. So buy this for the Brahms, and splurge for the Monteux/BSO Petrouchka.
Title: Petrushka (Ballet, 1911)
Brahms Variations On A Theme Of Haydn, Op. 56a
Artist(s): Conductor – Pierre Monteux
Orchestra – Paris Conservatoire Orchestra for the Stravinsky
Piano – Julius Katchen for the Stravinsky
The London Symphony for the Brahms
Recording Info: Stravinsky: Recorded 1957 in France with Orchestre De La Société Des Concerts Du Conservatoire by Decca for RCA
Brahms: Recorded by Decca for RCA 24-25 Jun 1958 at Kingsway Hall
Producer: James Walker Engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson
Petrushka (Ballet, 1911)
1 1st Tableau - The Shrovetide Fair 9:50
2 2nd Tableau - In Petrushka's Room 4:07
3 3rd Tableau - In The Moor's Room 7:30
4 4th Tableau - The Shrovetide Fair (Evening) 13:06
5 Brahms Variations On A Theme Of Haydn 16:56