DOWNLOAD NEWS 2013/9 Beluah Extra
by Brian Wilson
See the Download News archive here.
With so many fine new recordings appearing at such a rate that there would seem to be no problem besetting the classical music market, you may wonder why we need to turn to the likes of Beulah, Naxos Classical Archives and High Definition Tape Transfers for the reissue of gems from the past. Indeed, Im no lover of crackly old recordings for their own sake but almost everything that Beulah sends to me for review, usually with the crackle eliminated, or nearly so, stays in my library in some form or other most recently Ive been saving their releases on USB, since both my music systems allow me to play mp3 and wma (up to 320kb/s) via a socket on the front. Though Beulah, like Naxos Classical Archives, have stuck to mp3, whereas HDTT offer 16 , 24-bit and even DSD downloads, Im almost always impressed with the sound quality which they have achieved.
There have been so many releases from Beulah recently, including complete albums available from iTunes, Amazon and 7digital that it seemed best to deal with them in a separate edition of DL News to celebrate the forthcoming 20th birthday of the label. All the current months releases are publicised on their homepage, with links to earlier months. June 2013 releases are here.
Beulah Extra June 2013
Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Islamey (Oriental Fantasy, orch. Casella) [9:34]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Eugene Goossens rec.1957. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 1BX252 [9:34] from eavb.co.uk
Im a great fan of Balakirev, especially of his First Symphony, though I have to admit that my better half is right when she says that his music doesnt go anywhere; I just enjoy the scenery on the journey. Islamey is a colourful work, depicting the more exotic parts of the Russian Empire as such it makes a good pairing with Borodins Steppes of Central Asia (below). The piano original was a Horowitz speciality but its even more colourful in its orchestral guise here.
The Goossens recording was teamed with Rimsky-Korsakov, Le Coq dOr and Russian Easter Festival Overture, on its original HMV release and again when it reappeared on a Classics for Pleasure LP perhaps we could have those too. The performance brings out the attractive qualities of the music and the recording sounds much more than acceptable; little allowance needs to be made for its age.
Beulah have also given us a very good transcription of the wonderful Beecham recording of Balakirevs First Symphony (16-18BX11 April 2012/1 DL Roundup). As the EMI CD is deleted, thats very strongly recommended.
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1837) In the Steppes of Central Asia [5:46]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Georges Prêtre rec. 1962. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 1BX253 [5:46] from eavb.co.uk
First released on HMV ASD509, this was perhaps the least well known work in a collection of popular Russian music: Mussorgskys Night on the Bare Mountain, etc. Trevor Harvey was by implication a bit sniffy about the programme though he enjoyed In the Steppes as a quiet interlude and, quite rightly, praised the quality of the performance and recording. Like Islamey (above) its colourful, though much more peaceful, so the two together make a very good mini-programme.
Reissue of the Month
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No.4 in e minor, Op.98 [41:27]
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler
BEULAH EXTRA 4-7BX31 [41:27] from eavb.co.uk
[see below: Beethoven and Brahms]
With the release of the projected iTunes album (below) delayed, Im pleased that Beulah have decided to produce this recording of the Brahms Fourth Symphony separately a high-quality performance to match my benchmark, Klemperer, shining through the less than ideal recorded sound. In a normal Download News this would be a clear Reissue of the Month. See below for full details.
Nicolaus BRUHNS (1665-1697) Prelude and Fugue No.2 in e minor [8:52]
Hans Heintze (organ) rec. 1956. ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 1BX251 [8:52] from eavb.co.uk
This recording appeared on DG Archiv APM14081 in 1958, coupled with two other works by Bruhns and four by Lübeck. Though we have had more recordings of organ and vocal music by the North German baroque masters since then, DSs recommendation not to miss the recording holds good as much today as it did then; indeed, I hope that Beulah will give us the rest of that LP in short order.
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto No.2 in f minor, Op.21 [34:49]
Stefan Askenase (piano)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Leopold Ludwig rec.1960. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 3-5BX172 [34:49] from eavb.co.uk
Stefan Askenase and Támas Vásáry were the two Chopin stars in the DG firmament in the 1960s and the general consensus awarded the palm to Vásáry in the second piano concerto on the basis that Askenase captures the romantic side of the composer well but sells the heroic qualities a little short. I see the point; its a little dreamy but I like Chopin that way, so I enjoyed this well-transferred download.
Now that the Rubinstein performances of both concertos are available in decent sound review and November 2010 DL Roundup their hegemony is even more assured. I wrongly said that the amazon.co.uk download was at 320kb/s its actually around 220, but still preferable to the thin LP sound. The two concertos are, however, available in 320kb/s sound for £3.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk; the Amazon has now gone up to £4.49. Beulah have already given us the 1937 Rubinstein/Barbirolli recording of the first concerto (1-3BX73 see February 2011 DL Roundup).
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Mignarda (Galliard); Galliard upon a galliard of Daniel Batchelor; Batell Galliard
Julian Bream (lute) rec. 1960. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 4BX184 [9:54] from eavb.co.uk
Julian Breams recordings have come and, sadly, mostly gone on CD from RCA. All that seems to be left from them consists of mere scraps of the series that was available and a multi-CD set. The DG reissue of his Westminster recordings from 1954 and 1956 of music by Dowland and Bach, released to great acclaim only a couple of years ago, now seems to be available for download only.
Recorded by Decca for RCA, Breams playing is all that you could wish still my benchmark in spite of several recommendable modern releases and the recording has come up bright as new. With limited stocks reported by at least one online dealer for the Bream CD The Golden Age of English Lute Music, this separate Beulah release is very welcome. The original LP, SB2150, also contained music by Dowlands contemporaries, some of which Beulah have already given us: Holborne (3BX184), Johnson (1BX184) and Cutting (2BX184).
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Entrée, Gavotte, Air lentement and Concerto (allegro) from Aylesford Collection (ed. Squire and Maitland)
Thurston Dart (organ of St Johns, Wolverhampton) rec. c.1957. ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 22BX69 [6:20] from eavb.co.uk
This is the A-side of the 7" ep from which the Purcell organ works (below) are also taken and it represents by far the better half of the programme. The organ apart from a rather noisy action the recorded sound and the performances are brighter than in the Purcell and the reissue is very worthwhile indeed. The cost is a mere £0.50; whats not to recommend for such a small outlay? Theres some inevitable tape hiss but the recording is otherwise fine.
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Hebrides Overture, Op.26
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan rec.1962. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 11BX18 [20:13] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
New Symphony Orchestra/Heinz Unger rec.1944. ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 2BX33 [20:21] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec.1931. ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 3BX31 [20:30] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
Karajan: for a mere £0.50 or $0.76 this is well worth investing in even if you have other recordings of the Overture, including Karajans own later DG version, with the Scottish Symphony. The swimming bath acoustic complained of in 1962 is hardly in evidence in this transfer and though the overall sound is not of the very clearest, even rather damped down for its vintage, the result is more than acceptable. The performance presents the music not as a piece of pretty early-romantic picture-painting but as a work of some stature, so your response will depend on how you expect to react to that.
Unger: an older recording than the Karajan and sounding so if the latter sounds a little damped down at first hearing, for all that Beulah have done to improve matters its much more open by comparison with this 1944 version. Yet I hear the faëry sounds of Mendelssohns Midsummer Nights Dream in this performance more than in Karajans recording, so the two make an interesting paired contrast. Its interesting to note that the 1945 review assumed that the reader didnt know what is now such a familiar work and concentrated more on explaining the music than on the performance aptly described as canny, though thats hardly a term that reviewers would use nowadays. Its interesting, too, to note that wartime austerity meant that there were only three orchestral recordings to review that month at least the reviewers werent as overwhelmed as one sometimes feels today.
Furtwängler: if you have already read my take on Furtwänglers Brahms (above), you may not be surprised to learn that this performance appealed from the start and that its one of my favourite performances of the work, despite the dated early-electric 78 recording. In fact, Beulah have tidied up the sound so well that theres nary a vestige of surface noise when played at a reasonable volume over loudspeakers and it sounds little inferior, if at all, to the Unger recording of 1944. There are or have been reissues of later Furtwängler recordings of this overture, perhaps better recorded, but this is well worth your while. In 1932 the 78 recording cost 5/ (£0.25, at least £20 in todays values); now it can be yours for just £0.50/$0.76. Hows that for value?
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.14 in E-flat, K449
Walter Klien (piano)
Vienna Pro Musica Orchestra/Paul Angerer rec. 1961. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 1-3BX233 [21:46] from eavb.co.uk
Piano Concerto No.6 in B, K238
Géza Anda (piano)
Camerata Academica of the Salzburg Mozarteum rec. 1962. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 7-9BX88 [20:02] from eavb.co.uk
Piano Concerto No.22 in E-flat, K482
Géza Anda (piano)
Camerata Academica of the Salzburg Mozarteum
BEULAH EXTRA 4-6BX88 [33:35] from eavb.co.uk
K449: The sound on the original Vox LPs was variable to say the least and Beulah deserve real credit for tidying this up at least as well as recent Regis and Alto reissues of Brendel and Klien in Mozart from this vintage and much better than the Regis Mozart Double Concerto featuring the two pianists; theyve also managed to spell his name correctly, unlike Regis.
Theres an obvious rival version of Concerto No.14 on Alto ALC1074 from Alfred Brendel and the Solisti di Zagreb with Antonio Janigro, coupled with Concerto No.9 and Piano Sonata No.9, which I made Bargain of the Month. The original Vanguard recording on that CD was much better than Vox had given to him or to Klien and that recording takes some beating, even with the modern competition, some of it recorded with Mozarts alternative string quartet accompaniment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Kliens light touch on Beulah enough to be sure that I shall be listening to this alongside Brendel and more recent competitors. The Vienna Pro Musica were never that citys greatest but they play well enough here. At 7:12 the second movement is a tad slow, but that didnt worry me.
K238/K482: I got to know many of the Mozart piano concertos from Géza Andas DG recordings and I still hold them in high regard. These two recordings appeared together on SLPM 138824 in 1962, when Im surprised to see that Jeremy Noble was somewhat disappointed. There are more powerful recordings of K482 but Andas is by no means of the Meissen figurine variety and Im more of the mind of Robert Layton, who recommended the reissue of this concerto with Andas recording of No.21 (K467), a recording which shot to fame after its use in the film Elvira Madigan.
The Beulah transfers are very good little short of the quality of Linns more expensive Studio Master reissue of Concertos 6, 17 and 21 Reissue of the Month: July 2012/2 DL Roundup and a good deal less expensive. If you bought that download, so dont need Concerto No.6, Beulah allow you to purchase No.22 separately.
K238 may be smaller beer by comparison but most composers would have given their eye teeth to have written anything as good and Anda brings out the best of it.
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Beulah originally planned an iTunes album of vintage performances of Purcells music, but the album proved too complex for that medium, so several individual tracks have been released on Beulah Extra, as follows:
Suite in g minor, Z661: George Malcolm rec.1962. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 4BX24 [7:16] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
Twelve Lessons from Musicks Handmaid: George Malcolm
BEULAH EXTRA 5BX24 [14:52] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
Voluntary in G, Z720
Voluntary in C, Z717
Verse in F, Z716
Thurston Dart (organ of All Saints, Rotherhithe) rec. c.1957. ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 23BX69 [5:37] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
The fatal hour comes on apace, Z421
Joan Alexander (soprano); Arnold Goldsborough (harpsichord); Ambrose Gauntlett (cello)
From HMV History of Music in Sound, HMS58, released 1954 ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 1BX254 [3:57] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
Welcome Ode, Z340 (Welcome, vicegerent of the mighty King)
What shall be done in behalf of the man?
Alfred Deller (counter-tenor); Richard Lewis (tenor); Norman Walker (bass)
London Chamber Singers and Orchestra/Anthony Bernard
From HMV History of Music in Sound HMS57. ADD/mono
BEULAH EXTRA 7BX95 [4:23] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
George Malcolms harpsichord was a monster by todays more authentic standards, with 16-foot tone aplenty, but his importance as a pioneer of early music, alongside Thurston Dart, whom Beulah have also done proud, cannot be overstated. With very few exceptions, everyone played large-scale beasts in those days and Malcolm does so with much more restraint than most of his contemporaries whose recordings now remain like the stuffed dodos in museums. So, although these wouldnt be my first choice certainly not my only choice these recordings are well worth having alongside, say, Richard Egarrs selection on Harmonia Mundi which includes all eight suites, Z660-663 and 666-669 (HMU907428).
In fact, so good is Malcolms performance that it will whet your appetite for a version of the complete set and the recording, first released in a 6-LP box set on the Cantate label, with the title das lebendige Konzert, and reissued on a budget Oryx LP in 1970, is clear and bright enough to allow you enjoy the playing. If Z661 is attractive, the selections from Musicks Handmaid are even more so, pace the drubbing which the reissue received.
The recording of Thurston Dart playing the organ music has worn less well, with a small amount of surface noise apparent and the tone slightly plummy, coarse and slightly wavery it was released on a 7" ep and memory suggests that these seldom matched the quality of LPs but none of these factors spoiled my enjoyment of hearing this forerunner of the authentic movement. Purcells genius lay mainly in his vocal and ensemble music but the three short organ pieces here certainly merit hearing in their own right.
Beulah have already given us Thurston Darts recordings of Purcells Nine Keyboard Suites on nine Beulah Extra releases, 7BX69-17BX69, also released as an album on iTunes reviewed in June 2011/2 DL Roundup.
When The fatal hour comes on apace was reviewed in 1954, Joan Alexanders contribution was not mentioned but the harpsichord continuo was praised. Both this and the Alfred Deller performance of parts of two Welcome Odes are taken from HMV History of Music in Sound recordings, issued in albums of 78s well into the LP era. With modern recordings of both*, these might seem like mere historical curiosities, especially as that 1954 review also omitted to mention Dellers part surely counter-tenors were not that common then? praising instead Bernards light, dancing rhythm, Walkers singing and the accompanying recorders (and justly so).
* for Z421 the Deller Consort on a collection of Purcell works on an inexpensive Regis CD, RRC1366 or the Kings Consort (Hyperion CDA66730 or Hyperion Helios CDH55303); for Z340 and Z341 the Complete Odes and Welcome Songs (Kings Consort, Hyperion CDS44031/8; Z340 still available as single-album download of CDA66598 from hyperion-records.co.uk, currently £6.00, and Z341 on CDA66587 from hyperion-records.co.uk, currently only £4.00).
Historical the Beulah reissues may be, but the Deller recording in particular is of far more than curiosity value and both recordings have brushed up very nicely indeed.
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Manfred Symphony in b minor, Op.58
London Symphony Orchestra/Eugene Goossens rec.1959 ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 2-5BX252 [48:01] from eavb.co.uk (mp3)
Ive always thought the Manfred Symphony under-rated by comparison with the regular numbered symphonies. It was certainly something of a rarity when Eugene Goossens recorded it for Everest in 1959, which is presumably why, unfortunately, it had to be presented in a severely cut form. The extent of the cut can be seen by comparing the time with the Mariss Jansons (53:43, see below) and Vasily Petrenko recordings (57:46, see below). Yet, for all that, Goossens brings out the musics drama.
I enjoyed hearing this recording only briefly available in the UK on Everest CD especially as the transfer has been well made, but the more recent of Naxoss two recordings would make a better recommendation and its available to download from classicsonline.com for £4.99: RLPO/Petrenko with Voyevoda December 2008 DL Roundup.
Music and Arts have reissued Toscaninis 1953 recording with his Romeo and Juliet, and thats available from eclassical.com in mp3 and lossless sound, but be warned that there are cuts in that too and the orchestration is (often heavily) touched up. If you are looking for the complete Tchaikovsky symphonies, including Manfred, Chandos offer the Mariss Jansons complete set at a reasonable price CHAN10392: from theclassicalshop.net in mp3 or lossless.
2PD72: Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Große Fuge, Op.133 and Egmont Overture, Op.84, and Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No.4 in e minor, Op.98, recorded live in 1947, 1948 and 1954 [64:19] due from iTunes
Despite Beulahs best efforts, the sound in the Große Fuge is rather raw and shrill, though tolerable, especially as the performance is well worth hearing strong and capturing the quirkiness of Beethovens late quartets, in which form this movement first appeared, but without achieving quite the cragginess of Klemperers performance which, of course, is available in later and better recorded sound. The work emerges here as the descendant of Bach which it is. The Egmont Overture is perhaps the least important item here, but it receives a good performance. Once again the sound is thin and dated but tolerable.
The Brahms symphony not only stands at the peak of his orchestral achievements, its one of the dozen or so greatest works in the repertoire for me, but its very difficult to bring off. Of the recordings that I know only Klemperer, recently reissued again by EMI, and James Loughran (Classics for Pleasure, no longer available) make the grade. Boult comes very close on a recent release on the ICA label, coupled with Mendelssohns Italian Symphony see 2013/4 Download News. To these Im very happy to add Furtwänglers spellbinding interpretation Im not sure that he doesnt hit the mark even more accurately than Klemperer. The recording is shrill and crumbly; though its tolerable and I could almost ignore it by the end of the finale, it wouldnt be my regular choice for listening to this symphony, but I wouldnt want to be without it.
I know someone with a large collection of recorded music who refuses to listen to live recordings more than once because he remembers where the coughs and splutters occur and tenses up when they are due. There are quite a few in the Brahms, so this very fine Beethoven and enthralling Brahms album would not be for him, but he would be missing a treat.
This was due in late May from iTunes and amazon.co.uk but has been delayed. I trust that Amazon will not be offering the opening movement of Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony on track 6 instead of the finale of the Brahms, as stated in their pre-release material if you purchase from them, be sure that you receive the correct goods. See above for separate Beulah Extra release of the Brahms, costing just £3.00 for a first-rate performance.
Beulah have three other recordings of the Brahms Fourth: on Beulah Extra 1-4BX92 Max Fiedler comes close to offering a fine performance but theres a little too much rubato for my liking and the recording (1929) is too dated for enjoyment see October 2010 Download Roundup. Both Rob Barnett and I enjoyed hearing Karl Rankl (1944) on 1-4BX22 but again the sound is dated. Josef Krips with the LSO comes pretty close to matching Klemperer and Furtwängler and his recording sounds much better than any of the other mono recordings that Ive mentioned (5-8BX85) see December 2010 Download Roundup for the Rankl and Krips.
1PD72: Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.7 in E, WAB107 [61:11], recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic and Wilhelm Furtwängler in October 1949. The sound is a bit crumbly in places but perfectly tolerable. Authenticity in Bruckner was hardly on anyones minds in 1949 to have anything other than the Fourth, the Romantic Symphony, recorded at all was quite something but the 1885 score wouldnt be first choice now. Nor is it fashionable now to pull the tempo around as much as Furtwängler and Jochum did. I like Jochums Bruckner and I enjoyed hearing Furtwängler so, though this wouldnt be my first choice for this symphony, its more than just a historic relic. Of the various available recordings of this work which Furtwängler made, this is by general consent the best. (See Jonathan Woolfs review of the Music and Arts recording, below, for a comparison.) Its available from amazon.co.uk and from iTunes.
Theres more of Furtwängler in Bruckner on Music and Arts CD-1209, a 5-CD set of Symphonies Nos.4-9 in performances from 1942 to 1951 with the BPO and VPO a different version of No.7 review. Download from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) but NB: the CD set can be had for much less than the download.
Theres more BRUCKNER on 2PD79: Mass No.3 in f minor, Karl Forster conducting a distinguished set of soloists, the St Hedwigs Choir and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1962. The LP had the misfortune to be released at the same time as Eugen Jochums on DG and the general consensus has always favoured Jochum. He has a slightly better set of soloists and offers a slightly more affective interpretation overall, without too many of the abrupt changes of gear which some have found to spoil their enjoyment of his Bruckner symphonies. (Bruckner Complete Masses, 447 4092 download from deutschegrammophon.com, mp3 or flac)
I was critical of the recording quality on an earlier Beulah album containing Forsters performance of Mass No.2 (1PD79 2013/6 DL News), but I understand that its gone on to be a best-seller. This time the later stereo recording sounds much better, though still a trifle thin (or bright if you prefer), even for its date; Id no longer describe it as having warm and full-blooded sonority, as Derek Cooke did in 1963, though its much more than adequate. Certainly those who bought and enjoyed the earlier Foster recording will find the sound here more amenable and I enjoyed listening much more than to the earlier recording.
Available from iTunes and, slightly less expensively, from amazon.co.uk.
1PD77: Music of London offers Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No.2, A London Symphony in the classic Decca recording made in January 1952 by the London Philharmonic and Sir Adrian Boult, with the composer supervising. In many ways this remains the benchmark for later versions and its the one to which I still return most often unless I wish to hear the very special Richard Hickox recording of the original, longer version, rolled out once only by permission of the Vaughan Williams Trust (Chandos CHAN9902/CHSA5001). Unfortunately, the Chandos USB collection of all the VW symphonies has now been deleted, but individual albums remain available on (SA)CD or as downloads.
Boult recorded the VW symphonies again for EMI in stereo (a 6-CD box set), but this 1952 recording has, understandably, hardly been out of the catalogue over the years and Ive owned many of the reissues, including a mock-stereo LP on the Decca Eclipse label. It remains available in several formats, including an mp3 download on the Naxos Classical Archives label for just £1.99 (not available in the USA, Australia or Singapore) and on a 5-CD set of all nine symphonies from Decca (473 2412, around £20). Theres also a super-bargain offer from amazon.co.uk, all the symphonies for just £7.49 here: see November 2010 DL Roundup for that and the Decca set as a download. (Download the Decca set from 7digital.com, though you should find the CDs for less than the download asking price the Passionato link no longer applies.)
Theres only rival recording from the 1950s, performed by the Hallé under Sir John Barbirolli for Nixa and no longer available. NB to Beulah and others that would also make a very fine reissue and Im sure that it could be made to sound better than when I last heard it on a Pye Golden Guinea LP.
All the recent re-masterings of the Boult that Ive heard, even including the super-bargain, have come up sounding well, capturing the rich scoring of this work, but the Beulah is by a margin the best of the bunch. Add the London Suite No.1 conducted by its composer, Eric COATES, with the New Symphony Orchestra of London in 1948, and Sir Edward ELGARs Cockaigne Overture recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Eduard van Beinum in 1949 and this becomes a tempting proposition. Older readers will remember the third movement of the London Suite, Knightsbridge, being used as the signature tune of the long-running Saturday evening radio (and briefly TV) show, In Town Tonight.
If youre tempted to discover more of Coates music, your next port of call should be a wonderful and inexpensive 2-CD set on Classics for Pleasure, conducted by the likes of Sir Charles Groves and Sir Charles Mackerras: download for £4.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk.
This powerfully evocative recording of Cockaigne remains available on an earlier Beulah CD release of Elgar, 2PD15 from eavb.co.uk; see also Visions of Elgar, below but its reappearance as the culmination of a programme of music about London is extremely apt, beginning and ending the album with works which incorporate the Westminster Chimes. Despite their 78rpm origins, the Coates and Elgar sound fine, with just a very occasional hint of surface noise. From iTunes for £6.99 here and from amazon.co.uk for £7.49.
6PD12: just over a year after recording the London Symphony, in December 1953, Boult and the LPO turned to the VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Sea Symphony, with Isobel Baillie, John Cameron and the London Philharmonic Choir, again under the watchful eye of the composer. Once again, despite the availability of some very fine later recordings, this is still my benchmark version and its also come up sounding very well indeed in the Beulah transfer still as stupendous in its way as when it was so described back by AR in 1954.
Its due for release from iTunes and Amazon for a good deal less in real terms than the 72/11 in 1954 on two LPs, with the Wasps music (current value around £90). Who could have imagined in 1954 the amount of music that Ive stored on the same 16GB USB stick as this Beulah reissue my Denon and Onkyo systems have slots on the front, designed for the iPod but equally capable of playing music direct from a USB stick, including the Warner Classics release of the complete music of Bach which I recommended recently review.
1PD76 Music of England I from iTunes or amazon.co.uk: this opens with Eugene Ormandys performances of Frederick DELIUS On hearing the first Cuckoo in Spring and Brigg Fair with his own Philadelphia Orchestra. Id forgotten how good Ormandys Delius is, though I once owned these two performances on a CBS LP, together with some of the shorter pieces which Beecham recorded for Columbia. Recorded in stereo around 1960, the Ormandy items always sounded much better than those earlier Beecham recordings and they have come up very well indeed in this Beulah transfer.
Sir Adrian Boult recorded Vaughan WILLIAMS Partita for Double String Orchestra around the same time and the recording was issued with Symphony No.8, the only LP in the series to be in true stereo. The Partita is not included on any of the collected sets Nos.7 and 8 are coupled on both the Decca and the super-budget download. The Boult performance is included in a budget-price Double Decca with other works which you may have and Boults later EMI recording is tied up in large box sets, so its reissue by Beulah is very welcome indeed. It may not be VWs greatest music by quite a margin but its placing here after the two Delius works is very apt and the performance is as idiomatic as those of the symphonies.
The album is rounded off with the LSO and Sir Malcom Sargent in Benjamin BRITTENs Simple Symphony. An early work it may be but its charms are well brought out in this performance. It originally appeared with music by Holst (The Perfect Fool ballet music, which we already have from Beulah on 28BX13 June 2012/2 DL Roundup) and Walton (the Façade Suite) but its appearance here is equally apt. These recordings are all in stereo, dating from 1960-1962, and all have been made to sound well in these transfers.
Coming soon: 2PD76: Music of England II: classic Beecham recordings of music by Lord Berners (The Triumph of Neptune Suite) Arnell (Punch and the Child) and Bantock (Fifine at the Fair), all 1950s mono. Though these recordings of Berners and Bantock are available inexpensively in a recent EMI compendium of Beecham recordings, the separate Beulah release will appeal especially to those who already have earlier reissues of Beechams Delius which makes up the bulk of that set. Surprisingly, there seems to be only one alternative recording of the Arnell (Dutton, an all-Arnell programme).
4PD82: American Wind Band Classics III (Eastman Wind Ensemble/Frederick Fennell rec.1954, 1959 and 1961-2) takes us rather further off the beaten track than the two previous releases. Classics such as Sousas Washington Post rub shoulders with the less familiar, but with absolutely no sense that these are scrapings from the barrel, though John Philip Sousa, Morton Gould, William Schuman and Robert Russell Bennett are probably the only composers whom youve heard of. The others are Clifton Williams, Henry Filmore, Karl L King, John H Ribble and Charles E Duble, full details of tracks from iTunes or amazon.co.uk, whence the music may be downloaded.
With Universal concentrating on 50-CD whopper reissues of the treasures from the Mercury catalogue good value but hard to get through most letter-boxes it makes sense for Beulah to concentrate on single-album reissues like this. It goes without saying that the performances are first-rate and the transfers excellent; even the oldest track (from 1954) sounds very well.
8PD13: Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912) was clearly a remarkable man to have succeeded as a black composer, though his music is less fashionable now than it used to be. One work that has survived in the repertoire is his Hiawatha Overture, but the related work, Hiawathas Wedding Feast, now exists only in this Beulah transfer of Sir Malcolm Sargents 1962 stereo recording with Richard Lewis (tenor), Royal Choral Society and Philharmonia Orchestra and on a recent release on the Heritage label (HTGCD249) its an unfortunate coincidence not only that both have resurfaced so close in time but that they offer the same couplings, Othello Suite, Op.70 and Petite Suite de Concert, Op.77. The Decca 2-CD collection, which also includes The Death of Minnehaha, Hiawathas Departure and Symphonic Variations review seems to have been deleted but you couldnt wish for a better interpreter of the music than Sargent, who did it proud in every way, as Trevor Harvey reported in 1962.
The Wedding Feast was all that you got on LP, but both recent reissues offer more. The Othello Suite on both albums comes from Sargent again, with the New Symphony Orchestra in 1932, but Heritage have chosen Sir Dan Godfreys recording of the Petite Suite with the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra they also add the four short Valses, under Ainslie Murray while Beulah offer Sargent with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1931. I cant claim that the fillers provided much in the way of fresh insight into Coleridge-Taylors music by comparison with the Violin Concerto, which now deservedly exists in several recorded versions see below but I enjoyed hearing what are clearly idiomatic performances.
The Heritage recording has not yet reached the Naxos Music Library, so I cant compare the two transfers, but I doubt that the recording of the Wedding could be made to sound any better than in this Beulah transfer. The Petite Suite appeared on two 78s and was criticised at the time as sounding rather coarse but the Beulah transfer is anything but coarse very good indeed for 1931. The Othello Suite has come up sounding so fresh that I hardly noticed the transition from 1962 to 1932 sound; Im still as amazed at the quality of the sound as I was when I reviewed this on 27BX13 in the June 2012/2 DL Roundup. Theres hardly any surface noise on either of these 78 transfers.
The album is available from iTunes, Amazon.co.uk and 7digital.com.
Your next stop on the Coleridge-Taylor exploration trail should be one of the recordings of his Violin Concerto:
Hyperion CDA67420: Anthony Marwood; BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins (with SOMERVELL Violin Concerto): Recording of the Month review review and Hyperion Top 30 Roundup
Lyrita SRCD.317: Lorraine McAslan; London PO/Nicholas Braithwaite (with HARRISON Bredon Hill): Recording of the Month review review review and December 2008 DL Roundup
Avie AV044: Philippe Graffin; Johannesburg PO/Michael Hankinson (with DVOŘÁK Violin Concerto): Recording of the Month review
14PD15: Visions of ELGAR is a 4-CD set containing:
In the South; Symphony No.2: Sir Adrian Boult Reissue of the Month: January 2012/1 DL Roundup
Violin Concerto: Alfredo Campoli/Sir Adrian Boult
Falstaff; Introduction and Allegro for Strings May 2011 DL Roundup
Cockaigne Overture: Eduard van Beinum August 2012/1 DL Roundup
Cello Concerto: Anthony Pini/Eduard van Beinum June 2011 DL Roundup
The Dream of Gerontius (excerpts); I sing the birth; Imperial March; Pomp and Circumstance Marches 1 and 4; Enigma Variations: Sir Malcolm Sargent
HANDEL (arr. ELGAR) Overture in d minor; BACH (arr. ELGAR) Fantasia and Fugue in c minor, BWV537: Albert Coates
I havent heard all of this but the parts which I have heard and reviewed as separate Beulah Extra releases lead me to believe that its well worth having and at £7.99 from iTunes its a snip. For the parent CDs from which these recordings are taken, see Rob Barnetts 4-star review and review by Christopher Howell. The recordings are variable you can try out samples from the Beulah website.
Due for release soon on 1PD32: Historic Schubert performances from the 78 era which have already appeared on CD and on separate Beulah Extra releases.
Bob Briggs thought this a splendid disc review and I see no reason to demur; this is a useful gathering of separate releases which Ive heard on Beulah Extra; I reviewed all of these in the October 2010 DL Roundup:
2-3BX7: Symphony No.8 (Fistoulari, 1944)
20-23BX12: Symphony No.9 (Boult, 1934)
6BX36: Rosamunde Entracte (Weingartner, 1928)
Theres another highly recommendable performance of the Symphony No.9 from the Concertgebouw and Josef Krips in 1952 on Beulah Extra 2-5BX46 September 2011/1 DL Roundup.