Label: Quintessence - PMC 7004 • Series: Critics Choice • Format: Vinyl LP, Reissue • Country: US • Genre: Classical • Style: Classical
Taken from concerts at different times and in different venues it is not surprising that these radio recordings preserved by Richard Itter, sixty or more years in age, are variable in quality. In the s, the most troublesome space in which to record was the Royal Albert Hall and the first example is a performance of Haydn 99 which took place in that building, the acoustic of which has been problematic from the time that Edward, Prince of Wales made the opening speech in Despite some cloudiness there are benefits from the sonority, especially when the woodwinds are given isolated moments.
This is a very unhurried Haydn 99 and there is only the occasional whim where a tender woodwind phrase or Op. 21 - Sir Thomas Beecham is caressed so lovingly as to impede progress. The Minuet has a huge swing to it, measured and rhythmically emphatic. There follow two Mozart Symphonies and these are forceful renderings. Typically there are no exposition repeats nor were we given any in the Haydn but we do hear how, when using a full body of strings, Beecham still gets a convincing balance.
In No. Beethoven 2 from the Royal Festival Hall in is presented brightly and ebulliently. This is a winning reading apart from the ponderous speed for the Larghetto. Although lacking resonance, loud passages are forceful yet never rowdy but cellos and double basses are rather weak.
The Scherzo is exceptionally broad but the tempo works. Maida Vale gives some of the best sound of all, successfully revealing how Beecham makes climactic moments particularly exciting. His interpretation of Brahms 2 is straightforward except for an old-fashioned slowing at the second subject of the Finale.
Beecham gives a dramatic reading with fine singing from the men of the chorus in their brief appearance together with an eloquent contribution The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - M Alexander Young. The sound may not compare with the two-year-later EMI stereo Mikro - Karton - Schturmfrii but it copes with the many massive climaxes and is decently balanced.
There are one or two minor horn slips and towards the end there is the occasional sign of tiring strings but the playing elsewhere is stunning. Only rarely in this set is the sound less than adequate and it is a privilege to hear so many Beecham performances for the first time. An interesting collection even though Bart.* of genius are sometimes presented alongside moments of eccentricity, but then that was the nature of Sir Thomas Beecham.
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