Siva Oke’s Somm label
continues to delight. Somm’s connection
with the Beecham Trust has already
yielded a substantial catalogue of
the conductor’s rarities. This disc
continues the story.
It also complements
historic recordings of the first two
Alwyn symphonies in a limited edition
volume on Dutton CDSJB 1029. There
the BBC Symphony Orchestra also appears
but conducted by Barbirolli in a 1952
performance of the First Symphony.
Will someone now oblige with the Pritchard-led
first performance of the thrummingly
dynamic Fourth Symphony and the Sargent/Goossens
premiere of the ineffably serene Lyra
The Mozart 29 comes
with some initial hall-audience ambience
and a few coughs before the potent
ebb and surge is unleashed. Beecham’s
big band approach is very responsive
to dynamic and has his trademark turbo-charged
romantic lightning. The listener is
taken from restful stroll to satin-smooth
assault on the heavens at flick of
a baton. Aside from a tendency towards
hurried tempos – which may well appeal
- this is an old-style full-on reading.
It is done with the pedal down yet
is soaked in volatile charm. The tape
is in good fettle except for a slight
ruckle in the finale. The audience
who contribute the occasional cough
The sound in the
Alwyn is very much better than for
the Mozart despite coming from the
same concert. There is some close-up
distortion in the very loudest sections
but it is really very clean and with
something close to a pristine treble.
Grand stuff given the vintage. As
for the performance, Beecham gives
Alwyn’s heels Mercury’s wings. There
is a flaming aggression to the angry
romance of the first movement and
a contest between the voluptuous and
tense Shostakovich-like violence in
the second. Alwyn’s writing for the
brass is magnificent. The finale raves,
rages and rails with the stomping
impact of Holst’s Mars and
Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony.
One has the impression that it could
not have been written without the
RVW symphony as an exemplar – yet
it has its own intrinsic and individual
power. If you appreciate the Vaughan
Williams and also perhaps Arnell 3
then you need to hear this. This performance
of Alwyn 3 is the most broodingly
intense and splenetic I have heard
- and this notwithstanding the speckle
of coughs and throat-clearing. Not
to be missed.
Rather like the Mozart,
Beecham recorded the Grieg Symphonic
Dances in the studio and the outcome
of those sessions were issued on LP.
This studio session was recorded for
broadcast on the Third Programme in
the Maida Vale studio. The razor edge
on the treble is not as keen as in
the Alwyn but is very acceptable.
These are undemanding charming folk
dances but with Gynt-ype outbursts
in the final Allegro molto.
Beecham seems to have given a bucolic
Gallic flavour to the first three
movements and the village-green Canteloube
came to mind several times.
provides the usual full liner-notes.
They are in English only.
Remarkably this is
the twenty-third release in Somm’s
Beecham Collection. It upholds the
high standards of the rest of the
Collection. With this mix of repertoire
this disc will appeal first and foremost
to the Beecham collector. However
Alwynphiles and other British music
enthusiasts will be missing something
special if they do not hear the Third
Symphony in Beecham’s hands.