Pierre Monteux' s1955 reading of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony is deeply personal, intense, and eloquent. In this reading, the Boston Symphony responds to Monteux's sense of the music's architecture with great polish and suaveness. The rendition of the third movement march is among the very, very best renditions I've ever heard - it may well have you leaping out of your chair.
I realize that many folks have criticized this recording, because at points Monteux adopts very slow tempos, although not to the degree of Leonard Bernstein's highly-applauded 1987 New York Philharmonic reading.
In the late 1970s, I cherished this reading from a relatively smooth-sounding 1975-vintage RCA Gold Seal vinyl LP release. I understand that there are numerous other compelling recorded versions of this piece. Among my personal favorite recordings of Tchaikovsky's Opus 74 - and I might be more open to diverse interpretations of this Tchaikovsky work than other music connoisseurs:
Wilhelm Furtwangler's 1938 Berlin Philharmonic performance - for me perhaps the gold standard for devastating intensity;
Eugene Ormandy's 1960 reading (for CBS) and 1968 reading (for RCA) - somewhat different from each other, but I find his sense of the music's architecture very convincing and noble - the CBS reading slightly edges out the RCA but in my view both are compelling;
Mravinsky's 1956 mono reading and 1961 stereo reading with the Leningrad Philharmonic - in my view, the 1956 mono slightly edges out the 1961 stereo, this is a blisteringly intense performance.
I'd give honorable mention to Karajan 1976 and Bernstein 1987 as highly worthwhile listening.
All of us will have opinions on how this composition should be performed and interpreted, but IMHO the Monteux/Boston reading is exceptionally worthwhile on its own merits. As an overall performance, I would place it just slightly behind my first three recommended readings.
As for the audio quality, I have only listened to the Red Book CD layer using a conventional two-channel CD player. I was blown away with the quality of Soundmirror's DSD transfer from the 1955 original master tapes. The dynamic range is very, very close to the best, something which is apparent when one hears the Boston Symphony's brass section deliver a true mezzo-forte blast in the third movement. There is plenty of hall ambience from Boston's Symphony Hall.
Up until I sold them off about four years ago, I had a few of the early RCA stereo recordings on their "Stereo Orthophonic" 2-track reel-to-reel releases (though I did not own this specific title on 2-track reel-to-reel). Even played on a conventional CD player, this hybrid SACD comes astonishingly close to capturing the richness and visceral dynamic impact of those ancient open-reel tapes.
My only real gripe about this hybrid SACD release is that there are no additional Monteux/Boston Symphony selections to fully fill out this disc.
In summary, this is a highly worthwhile release both in terms of a compelling (if slightly individual) performance and excellent 1955 early-stereophonic sound quality.