Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Symphonie Fantastique (1830) [52.25]
Le Corsaire Overture (1831) [7.59]
Les Troyens: Marche Troyenne; Chasse royale et orage (1859) [14.26]
Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française/Thomas Beecham
Beecham Choral Society
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
rec. 30 Nov - 1-2 Dec 1959, Salle Wagram, Paris (Symphonie); 7 Nov 1958 (Corsaire); 19 Nov 1959 (Marche); 23 Mar 1957 (Hunt), Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London. ADD
Great Recordings of the Century series
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 67971 2 3 [65.05]


Feathery fancies, terror, delightful unanimity, surreptitious and mysterious spirit; all these are here. This is not quite the hyper-drilled splendour of Szell's Cleveland but certainly it is viscerally stirring. You will not be short of illustrations. Try the urgency in track 1 at 08.53. In scène aux champs Beecham injects threat and tension into the fields; they shiver under louring clouds. The threat is made palpable in the marche au supplice which ends in a blaze and a volley of drums. Hearing this work again after a long break reminded me how much of a musical revolutionary Berlioz was. Compare his dates and those of Brahms and then compare their music. Berlioz’s temperament was much closer to the next century than Brahms ever achieved. Of course originality is not everything.

With yet fuller sound for the substantial 'extras' including a hectically exciting yet still precise Corsaire this disc is easily recommendable and not just to nostalgic collectors recalling their record buying days in the 1960s. It is a while since I have heard them but I would also recommend Frémaux's, Stokowski's and Paray's versions of the Symphony. For a more modern recording John Eliot Gardiner is reported to be well worth hearing.

The CD is generously timed; not something that can always be said of this series.

Beecham's chemistry works in the currency of racy fervour and accuracy with both the French orchestra and his own RPO. Easy to recommend. Recommended.

Rob Barnett

Great Recordings of the Century

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