Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Beecham in Concert

Symphony no. 3

Symphony no. 4 'Italian'

Nutcracker Suite
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham
BBC Legends BBCL 4044-2

Any recording featuring Sir Thomas Beecham is bound to generate considerable interest. This mixed programme was recorded in 1958, the Schubert and Mendelssohn at a Festival Hall concert in October, the Tchaikovsky two months later later in the BBC Studios. In fact the sound quality is similar in each case, and in general it is frankly disappointing.

There is a better recorded Schubert 3 by Beecham on EMI (CDM7 69750-2), but the alternative recording of the Mendelssohn is from an earlier source, New York in 1942, available only on a Beecham Society recording (BEECHAM6). The Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite is available on a Music and Arts CD (MACD-631), also in a 1958 recording.

These three pieces were all particular favourites with Beecham, and the beautifully judged phrasing, the natural feel of the orchestral balances, reveal the wizard at the height of his powers. The recorded sound, alas, lets him down. It is dull and recessed, the strings in particular suffering to the extent that they sound decidedly lifeless. Moreover, climaxes are boxy and congested. If Beecham interests you in this repertoire, then it's probably best to look elsewhere of you can.

Terry Barfoot

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