Franck's Symphony in D has never been a favorite of mine. For years I have owned Charles Dutoit's 1991 recording with the Montreal Symphony. Every now and then I take it out and try listening to it again, wondering if I'll ever really enjoy it. I've heard a few other recordings, and none have ever excited me much, until I finally heard this classic rendition by Pierre Monteux, recorded in 1961 with the Chicago Symphony.
Monteux captures the Wagnerian sweep of the first movement, but never takes it over the top. It is a marvelously controlled and insightful performance with astonishing sound. RCA recorded this performance in three channel Living Stereo with the same orchestra and venue as the famed Fritz Reiner recordings. On SACD, this sounds far more sumptuous and full than Dutoit's much later digital recording (and the Montrealers were Decca's audiophile superstars in the eighties and nineties). This is simply an essential recording of this piece.
The pairing is no less valuable. Monteux had a close association with Stravinsky, premiering Petroushka with Diaghelev in Paris and presiding over the infamous Rite of Spring riot. This recording, of course, is a much later performance, but it is no less exciting to hear the original master directing. There is no lack of wonderful Petroushka recordings around, many in fine, modern sound; however, this one is superlative in virtually every way. The sound is excellent, aside from a bit of stridency in some of the crescendos. Otherwise, this recording stands with the best of the modern ones, and the performance exceeds most of them.
Don't hesitate. The price certainly can't be beat, especially for a hybrid SACD.