The performances in this box constitute the highest achievement of Thomas Beecham with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Though his many EMI/Columbia recordings of the standard and not so standard repertoire were among the finest of their time, Beecham's Haydn was and remains special. All Beecham's best qualities are in his Haydn -- suave phrasing, smooth shaping, an unerring sense of drama, and an innate feeling for the lyrical line, plus something more: a sense of kinship with the composer.
Born to money and supremely talented, Beecham naturally understood himself to be on a more or less equal footing with the composers whose music he conducted, but he appeared almost to identify with the Austrian classical master. In theRead more London symphonies, Beecham leads performances suffused with character, wit, and invention, performances that constantly surprise but always fulfill, performances altogether individualistic but absolutely right in tone and temper, performances, in sum, very much like both the composer and the conductor. Of course, this wouldn't be possible without the Royal Philharmonic, which plays for Beecham with its accustomed crisp attack and polished virtuosity, and responds quickly and gracefully to his every command.
Great as his Haydn symphonies are, Beecham's account of his oratorio The Seasons is even better. With soprano Elsie Morison, tenor Alexander Young, bass Michael Langdon, the Royal Philharmonic and the eponymously named Beecham Choral Society, Beecham creates a performance with the immense scale and enormous scope the subject requires, and the exalted fusion of idealistic humanism and pantheistic spirituality the treatment demands. Recorded in resplendent stereo between 1956 and 1958, the performances in this box constitute the essential element of any Beecham or Haydn collection. Try "Then breaks the glorious day at last," the final double chorus from The Seasons. If that doesn't do it, nothing will.
The Seasons, H 21 no 3by Franz Joseph Haydn Performer:
Elsie Morison (Soprano),
Alexander Young (Tenor),
Michael Langdon (Bass)
Sir Thomas Beecham
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,
Beecham Choral Society
Period: Classical Written: 1799-1801; Vienna, Austria Language: English
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Why Beecham was GreatMay 16, 2017By Donald Mintz (Trumansburg, NY)See All My Reviews"Beecham was disdainful of musicology in all its forms. He had no interest in critical editions. His articulations in these works are oftenno, usuallyat odds with authentic sources. But they are nevertheless frequently idiomatic, partly because poor editions are not all bad and mostly, I think, because Beecham's sheer and incredible musicality led him to defensible conclusions. Not, alas, in matters of tempo. The slow movements are dreadfully slow amd take some getting used to. Nevertheless and despite all these caveats, the performances are in many respects revelatory. Listen, for instance, to the softly breathed, genty correcting B-flat V7 at the end of the intro to the 99th symphony. The orchestra has loudly proclaimed the dominant of C minor, Gs heavily pounded out. But that's wrong. We need V7 of E-flat, and this is what the soft chord provides. Anyone can get this right in principle. But it seems to have taken Beecham to breathe a significance into it that others have missed. The recording is early stereo and very fine for its time; in most respects it still stands up. (Note: I have not yet listened to The Seasons which is sung in English.)"Report Abuse
An Old Friend ReturnsApril 8, 2014By David H Cooper (Rio Rancho, NM)See All My Reviews"When a teen I was first introduced to these performances on lp. They were a revelation then and gave me many happy hours of listening. Now, years later, after much more listening to early instrument performances, and the Dorati complete set, this Beecham traversal seems quite different. I can now appreciate it wayward interpretation for a version lost in the mists of time. The playing and singing are devoted and precise. For its time it was the version to have. Now it is A version to own and enjoy."Report Abuse