One of the most grown-up review sites around

55,946 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Falckenhagen Flute Concertos

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries


new releases


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Beecham: ABC Blue Network Concerts Volume 3
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 31 in D major ‘Paris’ K297 (1778) [18:47]
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
Espaņa- rhapsody for orchestra (1883) [6:34]
Georg Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) – Thomas BEECHAM (1879-1961)
Piano Concerto (c.1944) [27:17]
Announcements [0:36 and after the end of the Mozart Symphony]
Blue Network Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
The Blue Network of the American Broadcasting Company
rec. Saturday 21 April, 1945 live studio broadcast from Ritz Theater, 219 W. 48th Street, New York City

The third volume of this series (Volume 1 ~ Volume 2) traces a congenial concert of Mozart, Handel and Chabrier that is all over well within the hour. The central work is that hyphenated and hyperbolic construction, the Handel-Beecham Piano Concerto. In this the Bart has ransacked some memorable themes to stitch together a concerto of sorts, a vehicle for his new wife Betty Humby who here gives the work its first radio broadcast. The premiere had been given a little earlier, on 15 March 1944, again in New York. As Andrew Rose notes, Beecham and Humby recorded it in London the following year but he is not quite right in his dating. Most of the recording comes from January 1945 but the Romanza was set down successfully in October of that year (the then unpublished performance can now be found on Somm). There are no huge interpretative differences in as slight a piece as this, but it is noticeable that the very stately opening was tightened up a few months later in the London studio inscription. This charming work, full of rococo trills and burnished romance, is graced by excellent string playing – fully affetuoso when called for - an especially fine first flautist, and a few minor digital derailments from Humby. As picked up by the microphone, her piano tone isn’t quite centred in the balance; it tends to be a bit recessive.

Beecham was still in his early-mid period approach to Mozart’s symphonies. However beautifully shaped some later recordings were, there was sometimes a hint of too-manicured phrase tapering. Here he takes the Paris with all his accustomed vitality. His earlier LPO recording, which can be found on Dutton and elsewhere, is full of the kind of swagger and driving intensity that can be heard in this New York reading. The lower strings shine, the forward tuttis register powerfully, and the elegant and Andante never drags. Elegance and trenchancy are held in perfect equipoise. As a bonus we hear one of his encore favourites, a piece he loved playing and recording – Chabrier’s Espaņa. Deftly rhythmic and virtuosic it elicits voracious, applause which bulks up the playing time to precisely the 6:30 or so he took in his RCA reading. In New York he whipped up a quite different and more kinetic kind of storm.

On my review copy rogue discographic information relating to a Rudolf Kempe disc has migrated to the back of the jewel case, though this is presumably easy to correct. The engineering is fine and it’s always good to hear announcer Milton Cross adding period flavour to the proceedings.

Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Symphonic Works

Frederico Mompou

Extraordinary Music for Organ


Gunnar Kristinsson Moonbow

Mozart and Contemporaries


La clarinette Parisienne