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Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915)
Overture Der gefesselte Prometheus (Prometheus Bound), Op.38 [18:52]
Symphony No.1 in E flat: Lšndliche Hochzeit, Op.26 (Rustic Wedding, 1875) [39:39]
Robert-Schumann Philharmonie/Frank Beermann
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, 13-16 September 2010. DDD.
CPO 7774842 [58:31]

Reviewed as lossless download from (also available in mp3, both with pdf booklet)

AntonŪn DVOŘŃK (1841-1904)
Legend in g minor, Op.59/3^ [4:02]
The Golden Spinning Wheel* [24:37]
Symphony No.1 in E flat: Lšndliche Hochzeit, Op.26 (Rustic Wedding, 1875)** [40:39]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
rec. 1947*, 1952** ADD/mono; 1959^ ADD/stereo.
BEULAH 5PDR4 [69:18]†

Goldmark’s Rustic Wedding Symphony may not be a masterpiece but it contains some of the most beautiful music that I know.† I fell in love with it many years ago from the classic Beecham recording on Philips GL5719, last seen on Sony SMK87780 – review – but now deleted.† Having suggested that Beulah should reissue their single-track releases – DL Roundup July 2012/2 – on an album now that the single tracks have become rather expensive, it’s no sooner said than done, together with two other very enjoyable Beecham reissues.† As I write it’s hoped that this will be released on 31 May 2016.

Beecham remains incomparable but there are two modern recordings which fall not far short: from Lan Shui in Singapore on BIS – reviewDL News 2013/12 – and Yondani Butt with the RPO (ASV, with SakuntulaDL Roundup November 2010).† The ASV is no longer available from Passionato and the download from Qobuz is expensive at £11.56, with no booklet, when the Presto CD costs very little more.† Fans of Bernstein will find his NYPO recording, coupled with Hindemith Symphony in E-flat, at super-budget price as a download from Qobuz, with a booklet of sorts which is actually a eulogy of Bernstein.† It’s one of a series of downloads of his CBS recordings, all at £3.09, including some classics, such as his Ives, well worth checking out.

For the sheer enjoyment of hearing Beecham work his customary magic in making a good second-rate work sound almost first-rate I shall continue to turn to the Beulah reissue.† I received it in lossless wav sound and I strongly recommend downloading in lossless sound from Qobuz when it appears there, rather than the watered-down mp3 which iTunes and Amazon still cling to.† I’m not a fan of dated recordings per se but Beulah have made this sound, if anything, even better than on their earlier release.

The new recording offers a modern version to vie with the BIS, so not far behind Beecham in allure and better recorded.† Frank Beermann has already made several recordings for CPO and I plan to investigate some of these.

I also enjoyed listening to the coupling rather more than to the Second Symphony on BIS.† In his take on the Prometheus legend Goldmark challenges his more ‘serious’ contemporaries, even managing a synthesis of the then supposedly mutually exclusive styles of Brahms and Wagner: you were supposed to be one or the other, but Goldmark managed to be both as effectively as Couperin had married the French and Italian styles in an earlier century.

The DvořŠk Legend which opens the Beulah recording was recorded in stereo in 1959 and has come up sounding well, if a trifle top-heavy.† The Golden Spinning Wheel dates from three 78s released in 1949 and sounds, inevitably, thinner, though very good for its age in this transfer.† As so often, it was Beecham’s recording which introduced the work to the listening public and though there are now many better recorded versions – a personal favourite is conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras on Supraphon1 – I very much enjoyed this reissue.

The short playing time on CPO, though a disadvantage when buying the CD, means that the download is something of a bargain.† Because charge per second, the price is just $10.53 and it comes complete with the booklet.† There are no notes with the Beulah.† Those which accompany the CPO are perhaps a little too detailed for the average reader.

I have to recommend having both recordings: the Beecham for the sheer magic of the performance and the new Beermann for a performance not far behind, in better sound, and with a very interesting coupling.

1 Available on a single CD with but also as part of a 6-CD budget-price set of music by DvořŠk and Smetana (SU40412 – Download News 2013/10).† Unfortunately the download listed in that review is now more expensive, at £49.99, than the CDs, which sell for around £33.† Subscribers can stream from Qobuz.

Brian Wilson

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