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The Founding Years / Beecham, London Po


Release Date: 11/15/2005 
Label:  Lpo   Catalog #: 6   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartEmmanuel ChabrierJean SibeliusGeorge Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dora Labbette
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraLeeds Festival Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This program is a mixed bag, but at its core is material no serious Beecham collector would want to be without. The Sibelius and the two choral works were recorded at the 1934 Leeds Festival, supposedly live, but most likely at rehearsal; the Handel and Mozart excerpts, four and three sides respectively, along with Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, were dubbed onto regular 78 matrices and duly issued. The excerpts from The Tempest—a world premiere recording—were not approved for issue. However, one disc was inadvertently sold briefly in the US before quickly being withdrawn; it is now one of the most sought-after of Beecham 78s. Several other items from this festival have recently come to light in the form of test pressings and have been issued Read more on the SOMM label.

The Tempest music included here, from newly discovered test pressings, comprises seven sides, two of which duplicate the contents of the issued 78 disc; however, at least one of these sides can clearly be identified as a different take, since the “new” version has a wrong note in the clarinet a few measures into the “Humoreske” that does not occur in the commercial pressing. Beecham re-recorded all this music: the Prelude and seven other items in 1937–38 in the Sibelius Society series, and a more extended set of excerpts in 1955 on a 10-inch LP that was issued only in Britain and, ironically, is perhaps Beecham’s rarest commercial LP. The later recordings duplicate all the Leeds items, but there is no denying the sense of occasion surrounding the present issue.

The Mozart excerpts, long available on 78, are apparently making their extended-play debut here; the Handel choruses, on the other hand, have been reissued a number of times; currently they can also be had on a Handel-Beecham collection from VAI (VAIA 1045).

In a collection titled “The Founding Years,” it would seem to have made more sense to include the Borodin from Leeds and perhaps some of the earliest LPO studio recordings (Beecham founded the orchestra in 1932); instead, the remainder of the disc consists of two 1938–39 studio recordings apparently chosen arbitrarily from Beecham’s huge 1930s LPO discography. Of course, Mozart was one of Beecham’s pet composers—long before Amadeus and “The Mozart Effect”—and, as the excellent notes by prominent Beecham authority Lyndon Jenkins mention, España was one of the most celebrated discs he and his orchestra made during that decade. But these items have been reissued frequently, and there are many more intriguing and relevant items that could have been chosen.

Sound quality is an issue with any historical recording, but especially with this one. The Leeds recordings are compromised, not only because of the “location” rather than studio venue, but because the original metal parts were destroyed, so virtually all the 78 pressings are dubs. The transfers by Michael Dutton will not surprise anyone familiar with his work: the signal is processed heavily with electronic reverberation, high-frequency filtering, and artificial stereo. De gustibus . . . The studio items are taken from superior originals, and are thankfully subjected to less tampering, although comparison of España with an old World Records LP transfer by Anthony Griffith still shows that you can’t eliminate all the surface noise without taking a lot of the tambourine and cymbals along with it. UK issue numbers for original 78s are given, but no matrix numbers, which are especially critical for unissued material. Still, this is a must for serious Beecham collectors and for Sibelius completists.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 35 in D major, K 385 "Haffner" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1938 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
2. España by Emmanuel Chabrier
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; France 
Date of Recording: 1939 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
3. The Tempest, Op. 109 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1925; Finland 
Date of Recording: 10/04/1934 
Venue:  Live  Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, England 
4. Mass in C minor, K 427 (417a) "Great": Kyrie by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Dora Labbette (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leeds Festival Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782-1783; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1934 
Venue:  Live  Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, England 
Language: Latin 
5. Mass in C minor, K 427 (417a) "Great": Qui tollis by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Dora Labbette (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leeds Festival Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782-1783; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1934 
Venue:  Live  Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, England 
Language: Latin 
6. Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: But as for His people by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leeds Festival Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739; London, England 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1934 
Venue:  Live  Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, England 
Language: Latin 
7. Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: The Lord is a man of war by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leeds Festival Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739; London, England 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1934 
Venue:  Live  Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, England 
Language: Latin 
8. Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: Moses and the children of Israel by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leeds Festival Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1739; London, England 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1934 
Venue:  Live  Leeds Town Hall, Leeds, England 
Language: Latin 

Sound Samples

The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Prelude
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: II. Humoresque
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: I. The Oak Tree
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: VII. Intrada
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: VII. Berceuse
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: VI. Scene
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 2: III. Dance of the Nymphs
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 2: IV. Prospero
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: III. Caliban's Song
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: V. Canon
The Tempest Suite Nos. 1 and 2, Op. 109, Nos. 2, 3: Suite No. 1: IX. The Storm
Mass No. 18 in C minor, K. 427, "Great": Kyrie
Mass No. 18 in C minor, K. 427, "Great": Gloria: Qui tollis
Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: Part I: But as for his people (Chorus)
Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: Part II: Duet: The Lord is a man of war (2 Basses)
Israel in Egypt, HWV 54: Part III, Moses Song: Moses and the children of Israel sung this song (Chorus)
Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, "Haffner": I. Allegro con spirito
Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, "Haffner": II. Andante
Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, "Haffner": III. Menuetto
Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, "Haffner": IV. Presto

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