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Sir Thomas Beecham: The Later Tradition - Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Etc.

Beecham,Thomas
Release Date: 03/22/2011 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 18611   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohannes BrahmsFranz LisztFelix Mendelssohn,   ... 
Performer:  Jennifer VyvyanMonica SinclairRichard LewisMarian Nowakowski,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraBeecham Choral Society
Number of Discs: 8 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A rewarding selection played with bravado and technical sheen.

This 8 CD set includes a wide variety of orchestral music from the end of the Classical era with Beethoven through the romantic era up to the 20 th century selections from Richard Strauss.
 
Perhaps the most persuasive of all Beecham’s Beethoven recordings, Beethoven Symphony No. 2 is a triumph. The larghetto is a particular highlight with its well-judged tempos. The orchestral tone is warm and vibrant. The outer movements call for a more extrovert style and these records are not found wanting. Arguably this symphony as with the rest can sound even better in live performances where it is more straightforward to keep the
Read more momentum going. Nevertheless conductor, orchestra and the sound engineers manage very well. Listen to the rhythmic drive in the Scherzo section which must have been difficult to capture. I remember reading that this was the least recorded of Beethoven’s symphonies. The difficulty of this symphony must be a factor – Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic’s success here is a real achievement.
 
The flexibility of Beecham’s conducting is displayed throughout Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Where the speeds vary the orchestra is always ready with clarity and unrushed virtuosity. The technical standard here cannot be considered inferior to many other records by Karajan or more recent conductors. The speeds, as with Sawallisch (Philips) do not unduly call attention to themselves and proceed with a good deal of precision.
 
The adagio, as with so many versions of Brahms Symphony No. 2, is the highlight. The grateful tunes and textures are given full, detailed, expression as also is the vigour so often missing from other recordings. The impressive vitality of the first movement complements the more detailed and deliberate performance of the second movement.
 
As befits the melodramatic topic, Liszt’s Faust symphony is full of contrasts. The vibrant power required for the first movement is so different from the Gretchen movement which requires the charm which was Beecham’s great asset. The sound, so important in this piece, is fine for its time but cannot compete with such modern recordings as the Bernstein DG recording or the excellent sound on the Chandos recording with Dausgaard. I don’t think those performances match this one even remembering how good they sound at times.
 
If there was any concern that Beecham would not rival conductors such as Wilhelm Furtwängler or Arturo Toscanini in Wagner’s Meistersinger Overture this record puts it to rest. Even more than in some live recordings this performance enjoys great clarity but also a warmth and sonority which is exceptional. This is notably from the horns. Beecham is not timid with the big tunes but also does not wallow.
 
The composer of Die Winterreise was not a one-trick pony as this selection proves. Included here are Schubert’s Symphonies 3, 5 and 6. The lightness and spontaneity of some parts of Symphony 3 juxtapose with elements of surprising vigour. The beauty of the Fifth symphony is incomparable.
 
Strauss Ein Heldenleben is rich-toned and tense. And there is not lack of refinement either. If there are times when the sound disappoints somewhat there is still a great deal of passion and polish. The Karajan Digital recording on DG is the best ‘modern’ example. The historical importance of Beecham’s Salome orchestral highlights is considerable – he conducted the London premiere of that opera at Covent Garden.
 
There are many other selections on these discs which reward listeners with a sense of bravado and technical sheen which were arguably at this time Beecham’s alone – certainly outside Vienna.
 
-- David Bennett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 36 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Ruins of Athens, Op. 113 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/29/1957 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England 
Length: 21 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: German 
4.
Mass in C major, Op. 86 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Jennifer Vyvyan (Soprano), Monica Sinclair (Alto), Richard Lewis (Tenor),
Marian Nowakowski (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/21/1958 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, England 
Length: 42 Minutes 59 Secs. 
5.
Academic Festival Overture in C minor, Op. 80 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
6.
Song of Destiny, Op. 54 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1871; Austria 
7.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Austria 
8.
Faust Symphony, S 108 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Alexander Young (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1857; Weimar, Germany 
Length: 70 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Sung in English 
9.
Psalm 13 for Tenor, Chorus and Orchestra, S 13 "Herr, wie lange" by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Walter Midgley (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
Period: Romantic 
Length: 70 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Sung in English 
10.
Orpheus, S 98 by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853-1854; Weimar, Germany 
11.
Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, in E major Op. 21 by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Germany 
12.
Die schöne Melusine Overture, Op. 32 by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Germany 
13.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
14.
Dichter und Bauer: Overture by Franz von Suppé
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Symphony no 3 in D major, D 200 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1958-59 
Length: 23 Minutes 25 Secs. 
16.
Symphony no 5 in B flat major, D 485 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1958-59 
Length: 25 Minutes 42 Secs. 
17.
Symphony no 6 in C major, D 589 "Little C Major" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1818; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 29 Minutes 21 Secs. 
18.
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Steven Staryk (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1898; Germany 
19.
Don Quixote, Op. 35 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Oscar Lampe (Violin), Leonard Rubens (Viola), Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896-1897; Germany 
20.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
21.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60: Minuet by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
22.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60: Der Fechtmeister by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
23.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60: Entrance and Dance of the Taylors by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Oscar Lampe (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
24.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60: Act 2 Prelude by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
25.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60: Le dîner by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Raymond Clark (Cello), Eric Harrison (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
26.
Salome, Op. 54: Dance of the seven veils by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/19/1947 
27.
Feuersnot, Op 50: Love Scene by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900-1901; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/11/1947 
28.
Intermezzo, Op. 72: Träumerei am Kamin by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918-1923; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/15/1947 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36 (1958 Digital Remaster): I. Adagio - Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36 (1958 Digital Remaster): II. Larghetto
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36 (1958 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo (Allegro)
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36 (1958 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro molto
Symphony No. 7 in A Op. 92 (1959 Digital Remaster): I. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
Symphony No. 7 in A Op. 92 (1959 Digital Remaster): II. Allegretto
Symphony No. 7 in A Op. 92 (1959 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo (Presto)
Symphony No. 7 in A Op. 92 (1959 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro con brio
Mass in C major Op. 86 (1992 Digital Remaster): I. Kyrie
Mass in C major Op. 86 (1992 Digital Remaster): II. Gloria
Mass in C major Op. 86 (1992 Digital Remaster): III. Credo
Mass in C major Op. 86 (1992 Digital Remaster): IV. Sanctus
Mass in C major Op. 86 (1992 Digital Remaster): V. Benedictus
Mass in C major Op. 86 (1992 Digital Remaster): VI. Agnus Dei
The Ruins of Athens - Incidental Music Op. 113 (1989 Digital Remaster): Overture (Andante con moto - Allegro, ma non troppo)
The Ruins of Athens - Incidental Music Op. 113 (1989 Digital Remaster): Chorus: Daughters of high-throned Zeus
The Ruins of Athens - Incidental Music Op. 113 (1989 Digital Remaster): Chorus of Dervishes
The Ruins of Athens - Incidental Music Op. 113 (1989 Digital Remaster): Turkish March
The Ruins of Athens - Incidental Music Op. 113 (1989 Digital Remaster): Chorus: Where freedom hath triumphed
The Ruins of Athens - Incidental Music Op. 113 (1989 Digital Remaster): March & Chorus: Twine ye garlands

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