Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Sir Thomas Beecham conducts orchestral favourites
Franz SUPPÉ (1819-1895)

Ein Morge, ein Mittag, ein Abend in Wien – overture
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)

Morgenblätter Waltz Op 279
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

La Jolie Fille de Perth – Suite
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Overture in D
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

La Cambiale di Matrimonio – overture
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1890)

Les Contes d’Hoffmann – excerpts
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
German Dance K605 Die Schlittenfahrt
German Dance in D K249 Haffner
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)

España – rapsodie
Royal Philharmonic Chorus
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
Recorded 1950-1953


The latest batch of Beecham Sonys has some delectable fare, mostly lighter it’s true this time around. I’ll be reviewing them all in due course but went straight to this fizzing selection of pops. It makes a blistering start with the Suppé, which is played to extract maximal contrasts both of mood and volume as note writer Graham Melville-Mason rightly says. The brass calls are resilient, the phrasing pliant when need be, the stentorian co-existent with the sentiment. I liked the Strauss with Beecham’s easy geniality and black-as-pitch basses though I doubt on this showing he was Barbirolli’s superior in this repertoire, to name one British colleague with whom he was on uneasy terms (which was most of them). The fun really starts with the Bizet, always a speciality of his. The burnished curve of the strings and the winds’ coil announce a delectably superior reading. The wind section features Gerald Jackson, Terence McDonagh, Gwydion Brooke and Jack Brymer, the famous Royal Family and one can listen to McDonagh’s oboe in the first Serenade in an atmosphere of untroubled delight. The engineers took care over the percussion in these sessions and over the triangle that tingles prominently in the March – superb wind chording by the way as Beecham brings out Bizet’s quirky orchestration with something not unadjacent to glee. The concluding Danse is truly diaphanous, light and aerated, but with increasingly crisply articulated violins.

The Boccherini is elegant and frilly with some powerful drive whilst the Rossini allows one to hear Dennis Brain in all his glory – middle of the road tempo from Beecham here. The Offenbach is apparently making its first ever appearance. The Overture is bluff and the Chorus rather overdoes the G and S approach in their contributions but there is beautiful orchestral playing in the Romance. Maybe the messy and muddy choral/orchestral balance in this movement did for this recording (the notes don’t say why it was withheld). But we end on an idiosyncratically high note with a very cellistic Barcarolle. His beloved Mozart is here – big-boned dances and brassy with the posthorn played by Richard Walton. The Chabrier is a rip-roaring send off, full of vivacity and brio. Is the blip at 3.38 on the original copy?

The residual studio noise inherent in these 1950-1953 tapes is there – if you listen very closely you can hear atmospheric bows on music stands, some squeaking chairs and they add to the concentrated vivacity of these delightful sessions.

Jonathan Woolf



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