ALFVEN: Swedish Rhapsody No. 1. BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.BERLIOZ: Fantastic Symphony. Overtures: Roman Carnival. Le Corsaire. Les Francs-juges. BIZET: Music from Carmen, Music from L'Arlesienne. Patrie Overture. Suite from The Fair Maid of Perth. Symphony in C. CHABRIER: Espana. Joyous March. CHAUSSON: Symphony in B Flat. DEBUSSY: Children's Corner Suite. Images. Jeux. La Boite a joujoux. La Mer. La plus que lente. Three Nocturnes.Fragments from La Martyre de Saint Sébastien. Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun. Printemps. Three Nocturnes. D'INDY: Symphony on a French Mountain Air (Jean-Yves Thibaudet). DUKAS: The Sorcerer's Apprentice. DVORAK: Slavonic Rhapsody No. 3. FALLA: El Amor Brujo (Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano). The Three-Cornered Hat. FAURÉ: Pavane. Suite from Pelleas and Mélisande. Requiem, Op. 48. FRANCK: Symphony in D minor. GLAZUNOV: Oriental Rhapsody. GOUNOD: Faust Ballet Music. HOLST: The Planets. IBERT: Bacchanale. Escales. Bostoniana. Flute Concerto. Divertissement. Hommage à Mozart. Louisville-concert Paris Symphonic Suite. DINDY: Symphony on a French Mountain Air. LISZT: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. MENDELSSOHN: Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream Overtures: Ruy Blas,The Fair Melussina. The Hebrides. Dream. . MUSSORGSKY: Prelude to Khovantschina. A Night on Bald Mountain. Pictures at an Exhibition. OFFENBACH: Gaite Parisienne. ORFF: Carmina Burana. PIAZZOLLA: Double Concerto for Bandolin and Gujitar/ other works. RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso. Boléro. La Valse. Daphnis and Chloe. Fanfare. Le Tombeau de Couperin. Mother Goose Ballet. Menuet antique. Pavane for a Dead Princess. Piano Concerto in G. Concerto for the Left Hand (Pascal Rogé). Rapsodie espagnole. Une barque sur l'océan. Noble and Sentimental Waltzes. RESPIGHI: The Fountains of Rome. The Pines of Rome. Roman Festivals. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scherazade. Capriccio espagnole. Russian Easter Overture. SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3. Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah. SATIE: Two Gymnopéadies. VON SUPPÉ: Seven overtures. STRAVINSKY: Fireworks. The Firebird. The Rite of Spring. Song of the Nightingale. Four Etudes. Petrushka. Fantastic Scherzo. Symphony for Wind Instruments. TCHAIKOVSKY: The Sleeping Beauty. The Nutcracker. The Swan Lake. THEODORAKIS: Adagio for Flute and Strings. Carnival Ballet Suite. THJOMAS: Raymond Overture.
DECCA 478 466 (35 disks)

What a fabulous treasure this is! Audiophiles have long treasures these recordings made from 1980 to 1996. The Montreal project was the idea of Ray Minshull, a quiet, gentle figure in the recording industry. He had worked with John Culshall (who produced Decca's legendary Ring recording). Beginning in 1967 Minshull was head of the label's classical division, and head of Decca from 1981until he retired in 1994. He was the mastermind behind the Dutoit/Montreal recordings. Decca had been looking for an appropriate conductor to record French repertory and they found him in Charles Dutoit, who already had achieved remarkable acclaim in a wide variety of repertory. He was appointed Music Director of the Montreal Symphony in 1977 and resigned in 2002 because of a tiff with several musicians. Jacques Lacombe was principal guest conductor until 2006 when Kernt Nagano was named Music Director.

It was found that acoustics of Montreal's Église de Saint-Eustache were perfect for recording, and when the first recordings were released they were universally praised not only for their audio quality, but the high level of performances.

The list above surely is impressive, but it does seem a bit odd that Decca selected only these recordings. So many are missing including the Berlioz Requiem, Liszt concertos with Thibaudet, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concertos with Bolet, orchestral works of Kodaly, Shostakovich, and many other composers. It does seem strange that more Tchaikovsky isn't here including 1812, the violin concerto (with Kyung Wha Chung) and the last three symphonies. However, this is a first-class production, and a limited edition. And the price is ridiculously low - super budget. Get it while you can. And thanks, Decca! Perhaps there will be a second volume in this series?

R.E.B. (April 2016)