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Wagner: Rienzi Overture; Delius: In A Summer Garden; Schubert: Symphony No. 9

Release Date: 10/11/2011 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 29   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard WagnerFrederick DeliusFranz Schubert
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 1. DELIUS In a Summer Garden 2. WAGNER Rienzi: Overture 3 Thomas Beecham, cond; Royal PO SOMM-BEECHAM 29, mono (75: 32) Live: London 1 12/14/1955, 3 12/6/1956; Read more 2 Edinburgh 8/24/1956

Having essentially exhausted the unissued studio recordings of Sir Thomas Beecham in this series, SOMM continues to mine the rich lode of live Beecham performances. The present release is valuable in that it features two works that Beecham never recorded commercially. He did record six of Schubert’s symphonies, but never the “Great” C Major, given here in his final performance of it; nor did he record the overture to Wagner’s Rienzi , despite having conducted all of that composer’s mature operas except Parsifal , and having recorded virtually all the other major overtures and excerpts, including the Faust Overture . Delius’s In a Summer Garden he recorded twice, the second time in 1951, a version that for some reason was never issued in the U.S.

Beecham’s reading of the Schubert is fairly straightforward. The introduction is measured, even stately, with an almost imperceptible accelerando leading seamlessly to the tempo of the Allegro . Accents are pointed, fortissimos explosive. Trombones and timpani are unusually prominent (the former underscoring the distinctive orchestral color of this symphony); it is impossible to tell whether this was Beecham’s decision, or is an artifact of the microphone pickup. There are no exposition repeats, of course, nor second repeats in the scherzo.

The Rienzi Overture is somewhat more characteristic; it is a spirited reading, with the drums at the end making what Beecham would have called a “grand racket.” The authoritative notes by Graham Melville-Mason tell us that this overture was a rarity in Beecham programs. It opened the all-Wagner concert of December 6, 1956; Melville-Mason gives us the entire program, a prodigious presentation of excerpts from no fewer than seven of the operas, with the “Ride of the Valkyries” encore representing the eighth!

Beecham’s way with Delius, of course, was unmatched; the performance of In a Summer Garden is not quite as finely polished as the studio versions, but it flows naturally, and the quiet ending is magical.

The sound of these live recordings is quite good, although SOMM has added a bit too much artificial reverberation. This disc fills two important gaps in Beecham’s discography; admirers of his art will want it as a matter of course.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Rienzi: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/2006 
Venue:  Royal Festival Hall 
Length: 11 Minutes 42 Secs. 
In a Summer Garden by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; France 
Date of Recording: 08/24/1956 
Venue:  Usher Hall, Edingurgh 
Length: 13 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Symphony no 9 in C major, D 944 "Great" by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1825-28; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/14/1955 
Venue:  Royal Festival Hall 
Length: 49 Minutes 11 Secs. 

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