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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 4, Etc / Beecham


Release Date: 03/06/2007 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 80015   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4. 1 Nutcracker: Suite No. 1. 1 Eugene Onegin: Waltz Thomas Beecham, cond; Royal PO EMI 80015, mono 1 (71:49)


When Beecham and his Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were about to begin a European tour in 1957, it made good commercial sense for EMI to Read more schedule a lengthy series of recording sessions at Paris’s Salle Wagram. Nobody, unfortunately, determined in advance that the equipment on hand was only monophonic. This didn’t bother Beecham, who referred in those days to the “stereocomic” technique; and truth be told, many early stereophonic releases (early in the sense of commercial viability, stereo having been successfully tested back in the 1930s) used exaggerated left-right effects to sell themselves. EMI got conductor and orchestra back into Kingsway Hall the following spring for a stereo re-make of the first movement, but oddly, not the rest.


This is a re-release of that original, completely mono LP of 1957. The trademark Beecham deft handling of detail is evident everywhere: in the wittily scampering pizzicato strings of the Scherzo’s opening, the wonderful strut of the winds in its central section, the dark brass snarling their way through the finale’s second theme. I’m not about to toss out my copies of Mravinsky/Leningrad (Deutsche Grammophon 419745) or Markevitch/LSO (currently on Philips Duo 438335), easily the most intensely driven of Fourths, but Beecham has more panache and equal energy. The reversion to the original mono first movement also wins, in my opinion, as the benefits of stereo have to weighed against the jar that derives as much from the change in venues as it does from leaving a two-channel signal for one-channel.


The op. 71a suite of the Nutcracker is another (mono) gem in Beecham’s hands. The overture, at a slow pace, never quite sparkles, but the rest of the pieces most certainly do, with plenty of distinction along the way. I confess that I’ve always found the waltz from Eugene Onegin vapid, but in this 1959 stereo version, it at least possesses impeccable polish and energy.


The transfers are excellent, aside from a brief tape bubble around 2:13 into the Nutcracker Overture that I don’t recall from my LP release. (I also don’t recall hearing Beecham stamp out the rhythm repeatedly at 1:35, but he was never a silent conductor on the podium, and digital re-mastering has a way of bringing these matters to the fore.)


Definitely recommended, even if you don’t need or want another Nutcracker . The Tchaikovsky Fourth is worth the price, alone.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 4 in F minor, Op. 36 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Russia 
Length: 42 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
Wagram Hall, Paris, France (10/08/1957 - 11/03/1957); Kingsway Hall, London, England (04/16/1958) 
2.
Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
Length: 22 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England (12/1953); Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England (12/02/1954 - 12/03/1954) 
3.
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24: Waltz by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Russia 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, Engl 
Length: 6 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, England (10/05/1959 - 11/19/1959) 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36 (2007 Digital Remaster): I. Andante sostenuto_Moderato con anima
Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36 (2007 Digital Remaster): II. Andantino in modo di canzone
Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36 (2007 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo: Pizzicato ostinato, allegro
Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36 (2007 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro con fuoco
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): I. Miniature Overture
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): II. March
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): III. Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy (Danse de la fée dragée)
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): IV. Trepak (Russian Dance)
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): V. Arabian Dance
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): VI. Chinese Dance
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): VII. Dance of the Reed-Flutes (Danse des mirlitons)
The Nutcracker - Suite Op. 71a (2007 Digital Remaster): VIII. Waltz of the Flowers (Valse des fleurs)
Eugene Onegin (2007 Digital Remaster): Waltz (Act II)

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