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Beulah Reissues - Summer and Autumn 2021 Update
By Brian Wilson

I’ve fallen behind in updating readers with Beulah releases since the early Spring. Two of a group of colleagues who are working from downloads and whose work I am co-ordinating, editing and converting to html reviewed the three Alfred Brendel tributes – review review – Recommended: review – but I’ve been too busy co-ordinating their reviews to catch up since.

As always, and in common with the advice on the Beulah website (eavb.co.uk), I recommend streaming or downloading these releases from Qobuz in lossless sound, as opposed to the mp3 offered at the same price by other providers. These are careful transfers which make the most of the material, whereas I suspect that some others just stick an LP or 78s on the turntable and give us what comes out the other end. Beulah’s results are comparable with the fine transfers which Naxos Historical offer.

Index:

BACH Keyboard Concerto No.4 – Thurston Dart – see Baroque Concertos
    French Suites 5 and 6 – see Essence of Thurston Dart
    Matthäus Passion: Erbarme dich – see Essence of Thurston Dart
    The Essence of JS Bach
BIZET The Fair Maid of Perth (complete)
BRAHMS Piano Concerto 1; Symphony 3 – Curzon, Solti
COATES London Bridge, London Suite, London again – see In London Town
DUKAS L’Apprenti Sorcier – see Essence of George Solti
GOUNOD Faust Ballet music – see Classic 78s
ELGAR Cockaigne Overture – see In London Town
HANDEL Organ Concerto, Op.7/1 – see Baroque Concertos
HOPKINS Talking about Music
IVES Symphony 3, Three Places in New England – see American Compositions 3
LEO Cello Concerto – see Baroque Concertos
MENOTTI Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Telephone
MILLER, Glen Starlit Hour
MOZART Epistle Sonata K274 – see Essence of Thurston Dart
    Piano Concerto 12, Symphonies 34 and 36 – see Beecham’s LPO Years 2
PUCCINI La Bohème Act 4 – see Beecham’s LPO Years 3
PURCELL Keyboard Suites – Thurston Dart
SCHUBERT Symphony No.5 – Solti (with Tchaikovsky)
    Piano Trio No.1; ‘Trout’ Quintet – Curzon, etc.
    Piano Sonatas 20 and 21 – Schnabel
SIBELIUS The Essence of Jean Sibelius: Symphony No.7 (Collins), etc.
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.5 – Solti (with Schubert)
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS The Wasps Overture – see Classic 78s
VERDI La Forza del Destino Overture – see Essence of George Solti
VIVALDI Bassoon Concerto RV484 – see Baroque Concertos
WAGNER Rheingold Scene 3 – see Essence of George Solti
WALLER, Fats Ain’t Misbehavin

American Compositions 3
Baroque Concertos – Barbirolli, Dart, etc. 
Beecham’s LPO Years – 1: French Music
    2: Mozart
    3: Opera and Oratorio
Cinema Organ Favourites – Reginald Dixon, etc.
Essence of George Solti, The
Essence of Thurston Dart, The
Jazz Britannica Volumes 1-6

***


My first choice among recent Beulah reissues has to be:


The Essence of Thurston Dart
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
French Suites Nos. 5 and 6, BWV816-7 [10:05 + 9:19]
Matthäus-Passion, BWV244: ‘Erbarme dich’ [7:14]
Henry PURCELL
Don Quixote, Z578: ‘From rosy bowers’ [7:02]
Voluntary in A on the 100th Psalm, Z721 [3:12]
James NARES
Introduction and Fugue [4:32]
John STANLEY
10 Voluntaries, Op.7: No.9 in G [3:35]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Epistle Sonata in G, K274 [5:14]
John DOWLAND
Lachrimæ: M Giles Hoby his Galliard [6:13]
Lachrimæ: Sir Henry Umptons Funeral [5:59]
Alfonso FERRABOSCO Junior
Four Note Pavan [5:31]
George MALCOLM
Variations on a Theme of Mozart for Four Harpsichords [8:49]
Helen Watts (soprano)
Eileen Joyce, George Malcolm, Denis Vaughan (harpsichord)
Philomusica of London
Boyd Neel String Orchestra
Thurston Dart (organ, harpsichord, director)
BEULAH 3PD69 [76:48]

I have already set down my appreciation of the work of Thurston Dart, a rare combination of academic and performer, not least in my review of the Eloquence reissue of his recording of Handel’s Water Music with the Philomusica of London – review. That’s well worth hearing, not just for its historical significance as the first complete recording, in 1960, of the whole Water Music, not just the suites which Sir Hamilton Harty had cobbled together, but also because Dart was beginning to produce from a modern-instrument orchestra, used to playing with oodles of vibrato, something much closer to the period-instrument sound to which we are now more accustomed. All that without the exaggerated phrasing and breakneck tempo which some authentic performers are prone to give us. And without the rather stiff idea of authenticity that Boyd Neel had produced on some of his recordings.

Beulah, too, have done their part in perpetuating Dart’s memory; in fact, there’s very little to choose in quality between the Eloquence Water Music, made from the original tapes, and the Beulah reissue, which couples more Handel from Dart in the form of his 1956 recordings of the harpsichord suites. I originally praised the Beulah transfers of the Water Music in December 2010; the addition of the keyboard music makes it more desirable, though, at 94 minutes, my preferred download in lossless sound from Qobuz has pushed the price up from their usual £7.99 to £11.99 (2PD69 Summer 2018/1).

The Essence of Thurston Dart is designed to present him in a variety of roles, organist, harpsichordist and director, both of his own Philomusica and the Boyd Neel Chamber Orchestra, another precursor of first the Academy of St Martin and the period-instrument movement. While period-instrument performance remains controversial, these Dart recordings from an earlier stage in the process offer a compromise that never seems like one, well worth hearing in their own right. As a sidelight on the historical performance debate, my colleague Chris Salocks wrote a well-argued critique from his point of view of the recent Harmonia Mundi Beethoven Triple Concerto – review – which has just been revealed as one of the close runners-up in the 2021 Gramophone awards. De gustibus

There’s more Thurston Dart on two other Beulah reissues. 1PD69, originally released in 2011, gives us his recording of Henry PURCELL Keyboard Suites on a Goff harpsichord. As the editor of the Purcell Society edition of this music he was well placed to interpret these suites, his recording taken from a 2-LP set released in 1957 and reviewed in DL Roundup June 2011/2.

For the link to my reviews of Dart’s Water Music recording on Beulah and Eloquence, please see the link above.

How do you distil The Essence of J S BACH onto one programme? I’d want something orchestral – a Brandenburg Concerto or a Suite – something choral from the Passions or the church cantatas – and some organ music. It might not be my ideal mix, but 1PS97 does pretty well, with the Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV545, from Albert Schweitzer (1935), Thurston Dart, the Pro Arte Orchestra and a distinguished team of soloists in the Concerto for three harpsichords, BWV1064 (1956), David Oistrakh and Hans Pischner in the Sonata for violin and keyboard No.6, BWV1019 (1960), the Motet Jesu meine Freude, BWV227, sung in English by King’s College Choir under David Willcocks in 1959 and the Prelude and Fugue in a minor, BWV543 played in Cologne Cathedral by Josef Zimmermann in 1956.

With the exception of the stylish account of the concerto, these are very much performances in the old Bach style – the motets, for instance, needs a bit of a push, as by Masaaki Suzuki and the Japan Bach Collegium (BIS-1841: Recording of the Month – review) – but (very) good examples of their kind. The opening Schweitzer recording is a bit overpowering, but otherwise the transfers have been well made.

You may not think immediately of the Hallé Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli as your first port of call for Baroque Concertos, 1PD71, but they provide the first two items on a release with that title. Eric Chadwick was the soloist in 1958 in George Frideric HANDEL Organ Concerto, Op.7/1 in B-flat, HWV307, and Evelyn Rothwell, alias Mrs Barbirolli, plays the Oboe Concerto No.1 in B-flat, HWV301.

It’s interesting to compare the Organ Concerto with the recent set of the Op.4 and Op.7 concertos on Alpha. Chadwick gives us the best of the old school, not far from the half-way house to period performance that Simon Preston and Yehudi Menuhin gave us, while Martin Haselböck divides critical opinion. I liked the new Alpha better than Marc Rochester – review – but I appreciate that he could easily seem too idiosyncratic, and I agree with MR in preferring Paul Nicholson’s budget-priced twofer on Hyperion – review. The Beulah release may well lead you that recording, except that the Hyperion omits the charming ‘Cuckoo and Nightingale’ concerto, included on the Alpha and recorded by Simon Preston on the complete Trevor Pinnock Handel (DG 4791932, 11 CDs) or on a single CD of four Handel Organ Concertos (DG 4196342, recently reissued as a Presto special CD). The charming Rothwell recording of the Oboe Concerto is something of a classic in its own right.

Thurston Dart is again on hand as harpsichord soloist in Johann Sebastian BACH Keyboard Concerto No.4 in A, BWV1055, with the Philomusica of London from 1959, and the album is rounded off with a rarity, Leonardo LEO Cello Concerto in D, with Enzo Altobelli as soloist, and Antonio VIVALDI Bassoon Concerto in e minor, RV484, with I Musici, directed by Maria Teresa Garatti (harpsichord, 1960). Like the Philomusica, I Musici were a transitional group from the older style of performing baroque music. These two recordings were worth rescuing, but most of their output now sounds more dated than that of Dart, whose stylish recording of the Bach makes me wish that we had been given more from SOL60007, whence BWV1055 is derived. Altobelli’s name is somewhat mangled on the cover; otherwise, this selection of baroque concertos is well worth having.

2PS98: Franz SCHUBERT Symphony No.5 from Sir Georg Solti with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in May 1958 – surely not the right conductor for this music, with his reputation for driving hard? As it happens, I was impressed from the word go – it’s light and airy rather than hard driven, and the tempi right from the start pretty well ideal by comparison with another recording from around the same time from a conductor whom one would have expected to have had more rapport with Schubert, Bruno Walter. Walter’s tempo for this movement is almost funereal by comparison (Sony download G010004074220S, with Symphonies 8 and 9). Nor does Solti allow the second movement to drag – it may be andante, but it’s also con moto and Solti observes both aspects. Nor did the remaining two movements diminish my genuine, if unexpected, enthusiasm for this bright and shining recording.

With the coupling of Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.5 with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra (May 1956), we are on much more mainstream Solti territory and there’s plenty of the expected energy in this recording, especially in the opening movement, taken a good deal faster even than by Szell, renowned as a speed merchant (Sony 82876787442, with Capriccio Italien, download only). But it’s not over-driven; there’s plenty of warmth, too. If you want to hear how hard the symphony can be pushed, there’s still no finer way to do so than from the DG Mravinsky recordings of Nos. 4 to 6 (Originals 4775911).

Both these recordings are available on Eloquence twofers, but the Beulah coupling is more economical. Both recordings were overseen by the legendary John Culshaw and have come up sounding well, especially if you choose to stream or download in lossless sound from Qobuz. 2PS98 [68:24]


There’s more SCHUBERT on another Beulah release: the Piano Trio No.1 in B-flat, D898, and the ‘Trout’ Quintet in A, D677 on 2PS21 [71:21] Lev Oborin, David Oistrakh and Sviatoslav Knushevitzky recorded the Trio at Abbey Road in 1958, while Clifford Curzon and the Vienna Octet gave the classic performance of the Quintet in the Sofiensaal Vienna in October 1957. The Warner Classics reissue of the Trio comes as a download without coupling; on CD it’s part of a multi-disc set, so the Beulah offers especially good value. The transfer is good, if a little shrill at times.

There are several download versions of the ‘Trout’ Quintet, at least one offering no coupling at all, while the Beulah coupling is one of the most generous and interesting. The Decca reissue, download only, comes with the ‘Death and the Maiden’ quartet; the least expensive lossless version that I could find costs almost £10, so the Beulah, at £7.99, is very good value. Whichever version you choose, this remains my benchmark for the work, while the recording has been well transferred, with just one tiny blip in the finale. Just sample the fourth movement, the variations on the theme of the song and this recording will be a must.


1PS93: Franz SCHUBERT
Piano Sonatas: No. 20 in A, D959; No. 21 in B-flat, D960
Artur Schnabel (piano)
rec. Studio 3, Abbey Road, London, 15 January 1937 and 25-26 January 1939. [70:34]

Mention Schnabel today, and I, for one, immediately think of his Beethoven, not least of an unfortunate accident with a set of his 78s on the escalator at Piccadilly Circus tube station – there wasn’t much left of the fragile shellacs by the time they reached the bottom. In November 1937, however, we find the Gramophone reviewer writing “I like Schnabel’s playing of the Schubert piano sonatas better than anything else he does. Much better, certainly, than his Beethoven.” To obtain D959 then on five 12” records would have cost 27/-, a small fortune, at least £60 in today’s values, so we can be grateful that Beulah offer both the final sonatas for £7.99.

It seems to have come as a surprise to that reviewer that the music could be so beautiful; it’s easy to take for granted the ready availability of some first-rate recordings of these works and at such reasonable prices. To take just one example, Brendel’s 1970s recordings of D958, 959 and 960, with Three Piano Pieces, D946, cost just less than £10 on CD or as a lossless download (Decca 4387032). If Brendel’s or Schnabel’s Schubert is not to your liking, there’s plenty else to choose, not least, for me, Clifford Curzon, recorded at The Maltings in 1972 (Decca 4176422, Presto CDR, or Clifford Curzon: Complete Decca Recordings, 4784389, 25 hours, download only, around £40 in lossless sound).

You won’t expect the Schnabel recordings from 78s to sound anything like as good as Brendel or Curzon, but you may find yourself thinking again: the sound is inevitably rather dry, but perfectly tolerable – after a while, it’s not difficult to forget that these performances were set down so long ago. It’s also easy to forget that it was all or nothing then, with no prospect of splicing in remakes; once the machine had stopped cutting one disc, it was straight on to another.

Comparing Schnabel with Serkin in a review of the latter’s D959, Jonathan Woolf expressed the contrast perfectly: Schnabel’s Schubert is “the way of the splintered flesh, the all too bodily.” He also mentions Curzon’s “fallible absorption” in the Impromptus which form the coupling on the Serkin recording – review. I couldn’t express my own love of Curzon’s D960 any better, or my very pleasant surprise in discovering these Schnabel recordings to be equally treasurable. If anything, D960 is even better than its predecessor, but the recording is a little more clangourous. No matter – I may have found an alternative to Curzon’s D960 for my funeral.

Szell conducts BRAHMS (1PS95) contains the classic 1962 recording of Piano Concerto No.1 with Clifford Curzon, the London Symphony Orchestra and George Szell, plus Szell with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Symphony No.3 in 1951. This is well worth having for the piano concerto alone – the alternative Decca reissue is also now download only, and, though costing more than when it was on CD, less expensive than the Beulah (4663762). The playing time of 81:47 has led to Qobuz charging £11.99 for the Beulah – a very thin excuse for exceeding their usual £7.99. That and the different couplings – Franck Symphonic Variations and the Litolff Scherzo on Decca – should decide the issue for you. Unless you want one of the recordings with a piano contemporary with the concerto itself, Curzon and Szell will still do fine, the recording well transferred on Beulah. If it has to be the contemporary piano, it’s between Schiff in both concertos: Recommended – review – and Melnikov/Bolton in No.1 – review.

Szell went on to record the Brahms Third in stereo with his own Cleveland Orchestra, but his many fans will enjoy this rather hard-driven account of the work; my own favourite among such interpretations remains with Klemperer’s later recording, slower all round but sometimes, aptly, described as ‘granite-hewn’ (Warner 4043382, 4 CDs, budget-price). The Klemperer recording is not ideal, but it’s preferable to the Szell, which sounds really grainy immediately after the recording of the piano concerto.

The Szell Third entered the then infant LP catalogue alongside Eduard van Beinum’s First, also with the Concertgebouw. That fine account has already been released by Beulah on Van Beinum conducts Brahms with his 1958 recording of the Violin Concerto with Arthur Grumiaux. In February 2017 I wrote that Beinum couldn’t put a foot wrong in Brahms and that it would be hard to name a more affectionate recording of the big tune in the finale.

More Solti on The Essence of George Solti (1PS98). It was inevitable that an album with that title would include an excerpt from his ground-breaking Decca recording of Richard WAGNER Ring cycle, represented here by Scene 3 of Das Rheingold, recorded in the Sofiensaal, Vienna, under the direction of John Cushaw in 1958. The recording concept for the cycle has been described too often to need repeating; suffice to say that it still sounds first-rate and that the transfer is very good. It’s just a great pity that Decca withdrew their blu-ray release of the whole Solti cycle on one disc inside a hard-back book; I hope that their recent blu-ray + 5-CD Karajan Sibelius lasts longer: Recording of the Month – review.

The VERDI, too, La Forza del Destino Overturee, and the DUKAS L'Apprenti Sorcier are mainland Solti territory; the latter, recorded with the Israel Philharmonic in 1957, has been the coupling on several Decca releases over the years, currently on a 2-CD Eloquence set Solti at the Ballet, but it's equally at home on this Beulah, while the BRAHMS Violin Sonata No.1, with Georg Kulenkampff, is a reminder that one wishes he had recorded more chamber repertoire.

Mention of SIBELIUS leads inevitably to The Essence of Jean Sibelius on 1PS96 [70:07] My only reservation is that the inclusion of Symphony No.7 from the celebrated cycle which Anthony Collins recorded with the LSO in mono for Decca (1954) might prevent potential purchasers from going for the complete set on two Eloquence twofers. (Also included in the recent 14-CD set, Eloquence 4841467.)

The Karelia Suite, recorded by Lorin Maazel with the VPO in 1963, which opens the programme, was released at the same time as a very worthwhile cycle of Sibelius symphonies made by that team; like them it still sounds well in this transfer (Decca 4307782, download only, budget price), and the Griller Quartet in the String Quartet (1950) remind us what a fine ensemble they were, ‘thoughtful and intense’ in Sibelius, as Lionel Salter wrote in June 1951.

If there’s one thing that Sir Thomas Beecham did even better than British Music, it’s to be found in his recordings of French Music. On Volume 1 of his LPO Years, 15PDR4 [73:01] Beulah have reissued his recordings of Georges BIZET – Suites from The Fair Maid of Perth (1934) Carmen (1939) and L’Arlésienne (1936) Claude DEBUSSY Prélude a l’après midi d’un faune (1937/8) and André GRÉTRY – the Air de Ballet from Zémir et Azore (1940). These supplement the earlier release of his later recordings of ‘lollipops’ in 2020 (14PDR4 – Beulah Late 2020). Older recordings these may be, but they have come up amazingly well in the Beulah transfer with the Beecham magic intact.

There’s another area in which Beecham excelled in addition to British and French music, and that’s the music of Sibelius. Beulah have already given us Beecham conducts Sibelius (2PDR4 DL News 2015/10) and Somm’s recent release of his previously unissued live recording of the First Symphony with the RPO from the Usher Hall in 1952, with some of the Scènes historiques, from the same sessions as those on Beulah (Somm Ariadne 1503 – my review pending), reminds me that Somm already had a very worthwhile reissue of his early 1950s Fourth and Sixth – review review.

Two other recordings of Beecham’s LPO Years bring MOZART (Volume 2, 16PDR4) and Opera and Oratorio (Volume 3, 17PDR4).

The MOZART opens with the Marriage of Figaro Overture (1937), followed bySymphony No.34 (1940), Piano Concerto No.12 (with Louis Kentner, 1940) and Symphony No.36, ‘Linz’ (1938/9). This recording of Symphony No.34 has already appeared on 1PDR4, which I reviewed in 2015 – some gremlin got into the works and cut the title Jupiter from Symphony No.41 earlier in that heading and bestowed on this less magisterial, less often performed, but still enjoyable symphony. The sound is inevitably on the dry side, but Beecham gives it and everything else lots of affection.

The Opera and Oratorio selection brings excerpts from HANDEL, the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, from Solomon (1933), three items from Israel in Egypt, the Polovtsian Dances from BORODIN Prince Igor (all Leeds Festival, 1934) an excerpt from WAGNER Götterdämmerung (live, Covent Garden, 1936) and Act 4 of PUCCINI La Bohème.

The Handel inevitably sounds rather heavy now – Beecham was apt to throw in everything he had; his Messiah, mercifully not included here, was really OTT, but it’s the Puccini that really interested me. Beecham’s later recording of La Bohème is my benchmark, with Victoria de los Angeles and Jussi Björling (Warner 5677502, download only, no booklet, or Naxos Historical 8111249-50), but I hadn’t heard this earlier (1935) version with Lisa Perll, Stella Andrews, Robert Alva, John Brownlee and Robert Easton. At 27 minutes, it’s the longest item on the programme, and I enjoyed hearing it, the rather dry sound no real handicap.

In the same month as the LPO Beecham, Beulah released another recording of his way with French music, Georges BIZET The Fair Maid of Perth – the rarely performed complete work, not just the orchestral suite in a broadcast recording from June 1949, on 1PD23 and 2PD23. A strong cast, including some of the best-known singers of the time with the BBC Theatre Chorus are accompanied by the RPO, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

This recording had already been resurrected by Beulah on CD and had been favourably reviewed on MusicWeb by John Quinn and Robert McKechnie. I’ll merely add that the recording has been further tidied up, though it still requires some tolerance, especially in places. It may not be the greatest Bizet, but it’s well worth hearing this vintage realisation.

In London Town brings together two masters of light classical music, Eric COATES and Noël COWARD, with Sir Edward ELGAR.

Coates conducts his own music with the Light Symphony Orchestra and the New Symphony Orchestra: London Bridge (rec. 1934), London Suite (1948) and London Again Suite (1936). These selections from the many recordings which Coates made include his two best-known works, the two London suites, the first including the Knightsbridge March which older listeners will recall as the theme tune of the Saturday evening radio programme In Town Tonight. If you wish to explore this now rather neglected composer some more, look no further than an inexpensive 2-CD Classics for Pleasure with performances directed by Sir Charles Groves, Sir Charles Mackerras and Reginal Kilbey (3523562). The earliest of these Beulah recordings cannot compare with the more recent CfP, but the transfers have been well made and the ear soon adjusts, especially to the 1948 London Suite.

Coward’s London Morning was recorded by the LPO and Geofrey Corbett in July 1959. There are transfers of this piece on Naxos Classical Archives (no coupling) and Eloquence (a 2-CD set with Coates conducting his own music and Sir Malcolm Sargent’s Enigma Variations).

Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture rounds off the programme in a stylish performance from the RPO and Sir Thomas Beecham (1954). Beecham’s mono recordings, once available from Sony, have largely disappeared from the catalogue in any format, so this reminder is very apt. 2PD77 [74:05]

4PDR1: American Compositions 3
Morton GOULD American Parade
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy – rec. 1962.
Charles IVES Symphony No.3; Three Places in New England
Eastman-Rochester Orchestra/Howard Hanson – rec. 1957
Arthur BENJAMIN Jamaican Rumba
Richard RODGERS Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
Virgil THOMPSON Arcadian Songs and Dances
Cleveland Pops Orchestra/Louis Lane – rec. 1959-1961 [63:38]

The programme opens in stirring fashion, with Morton Gould’s arrangement of ‘When Johnny comes marching home’; you might have thought that a little frivolous for Eugene Ormandy, but he and the Philadelphia Orchestra throw themselves into it, and the 1962 recording sounds almost fresh-minted in this transfer.

After that, it’s quite a change to the two works by Charles Ives. Hanson’s Mercury recordings of these remain available on 4327552 (Presto special CDR, with William Schuman and Mennin) or as a download-only set of American Masterworks, once available on five CDs, 4756274. Reviewing this same recording of the Ives Symphony from a hi-res tape transfer in January 2011, I thought it a very competitive version, with the transfer, heard in 24/96 sound, excellent. My comments on the performance remain valid, while the Beulah transfer in ‘mere’ 16-bit sound is very good indeed. In the same review, Dan Morgan was also impressed by hearing “a genuine classic restored”. See also Rob Barnett’s review of the Ives. Ten years on, would he still consider Dan and myself a ‘doughty’ team?

I could have wished the three items from the Cleveland Pops orchestra to have preceded the Ives – Jamaican Rumba comes over as a bit trite after ‘The Housatonic at Stockbridge’, but that’s my only reservation about this recording. If the Schnabel Schubert (below) had not swept the board, this could easily have been my choice of Beulah's April 2021 releases for the ‘Recommended’ label.

Gian Carlo MENOTTI Amahl and the Night Visitors has not had too many outings on record recently.  A Christmas-themed one-act opera for television, I’m old enough to remember when it was broadcast by the BBC in 1955. The Beulah reissue is of the 1951 recording made by the NBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra with Thomas Schippers, under the guidance of the composer. It’s coupled on 1PDR41 with another one-act opera The Telephone, recorded by soloists, CBS Orchestra and Emanuel Baliban in 1947.

There’s a modern Naxos CD which Dan Morgan thought ‘a real cracker’ – review – and Simon Thompson thought ‘a strong performance’ – review – but the Beulah recaptures a memory which many will treasure, though I regret that I was decidedly under-impressed at the time, watching it on a grainy 12” black-and-white television.

Classical 78s on 3PD4 [73:42] takes us further back than most of these Beulah reissues, with recordings dating from 1924, when acoustic horns were employed before the development of the microphone, until 1948. Transferring early LPs needs to be done with skill and care, but 78s are a whole order more difficult in reducing the shellac surface noise without compromising the dynamic range of the recording. Once again, it’s Beulah and Naxos Historical that I think of in that regard. I came to this Beulah reissue fresh from amazement at the quality of the Naxos transfers of Kajanus’ early 1930s recordings of the earlier symphonies of his friend Sibelius, so the bar was set pretty high, and I was not disappointed.

The very fine opening transfer of a recording of Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS’ The Wasps Overture, from the Queen’s Hall Orchestra and Sir Henry Wood and the following Charles GOUNOD Ballet Music from Faust (National Symphony Orchestra/Anatole Fistoulari) set the tone for the rest of this very interesting back trip to the past. It may be a foreign country, where they do things differently, as the opening of The Go Between reminds us, but it’s an interesting place to visit in transfers of this quality.

From 2020, one release that I seem to have missed:

12PD50: Antony Hopkins – Talking about Music: FRANCK Symphonic Variations, BEETHOVEN Symphony No.5, ELGAR ‘Enigma’ Variations, MOZART Symphony No.41 ‘Jupiter’, BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto and RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No.2. [87:20]

Much of what many of us oldies know about music was gleaned from listening to Antony Hopkins and his 15-minute radio talks. For those who remember them, this is a very worthwhile revisitation; those who have not heard them stand to learn a great deal. One quibble: because the time limit is just over the 80-minute mark, Qobuz charge as if for a double album.

See also Len Mullenger’s obituary article.

1PS85: Fats Waller – Ain’t Misehavin. Beulah don’t give us the recording dates for the items on this programme which, in addition the title track, also includes Honeysuckle Rose, St Louis Blues, I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter, Sweet Sue, and Lonesome me. As Fats Waller died in 1943 and he began recording in the late 1920s, these are, of course, vintage 78 rpm recordings, but still relevant today.

Almost 80 years on, his name is still well enough known even by those born long after that date, usually in association with that title track. The ‘buddies’ with whom he performed included such luminaries as Jack Teagarden, and other well-known performers made their own recordings of his compositions.

3PD7: Cinema Organ Favourites. We have already had a Beulah album of Reginald Dixon at the organ of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom; now here he is again, as part of an album with some of the other great exponents of the cinema organ, recorded from 1935 to 1960. Dixon himself and Sidney Torch apart, the latter here on the organs of the Gaumont, Kilburn, and the Regal, Marble Arch, most of the names will be known only to the aficionados of the genre. Most of the organs have gone, but there are, I believe, still plenty of those aficionados about, not just among the older generation.

***

One of the specialities of Beulah is the reissue in good transfers of jazz music. I’m listing the recent releases below with minimal comment in order to get this round-up completed without even more delay. Readers attracted to any of these will not need too much comment from me – each one is self-recommending to the right audience.

Glenn Miller Starlit Hour (6PS39)

Includes: Starlit Hour; Blue Orchids; Glen Island special; Gaucho serenade; The sky fell down; When you wish upon a star; Pagan love song; Ding dong, the witch is dead; Over the rainbow; In the mood; Faithful to you; Our love affair; Baby me.

The Dorsey Brothers: Dorsey Stomp (1PS99)

Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra:

Includes: I’m getting sentimental over you; Boogie woogie; Indian Summer; and, with Frank Sinatra:
You and I; Imagination; Fools rush in; Our love affair; Stardust 

Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra:

Includes: Dorsey Stomp; The peanut vendor; Top hat, white tie and tails; Cheek to cheek; Three little words; No strings

Six volumes of a new Beulah series, Jazz Britannica, have been released:

Volume 1 (1PS94) is something of a calling card for the series featuring music from the 1950s and 60s, with contributions by Alexis Korner, George Melly and Cleo Laine:

Includes: Spooky but nice; Hoochie Coochie; Mamma don’t allow it; Rocking chair; There’ll be some changes made; Alexander’s Ragtime Band; Sweet Lorraine; After you’ve gone away; Old Devil Moon and I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter, etc.

Volume 2 (2PS94): Rhythm and Blues with Ottilie Patterson:

Includes: Bad spell blues; Kid man blues; Four point blues; Back water blues; Kansas City blues; It’s all over; Can’t afford to do it, etc. – rec. July 1960

Chris Barber’s Jazz Band:

Includes: Jeep's blues; Dixie Cinderella; Tuxedo rag; Maple leaf rag, etc. – rec. 1955, 1961

Volume 3 (3PS94): Tubby Hayes’ Quartet and Jazz Band;

Includes: Ah-Leu-Chi; Late One; Tubbsville; Love walked in; Cherokee, etc. – rec. London, 1961

Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott :

Includes: What is this thing called Love? Some of my best friends are blues; Guys and dolls; Time was; Cheek to cheek, etc. – rec. live Dominion Theatre, 16 February 1958.

Volume 4 (4PS94): Annie Ross:

Including: A handful of songs, All of you; Fly me to the moon; Love for sale; All the things you are; Limehouse blues, etc. – conducted by Johnny Spence – rec. 1962

Cleo Laine :

Including: I gotta right to sing the blues; I’ve got my love to keep me warm; I’m just wild about Harry; I’ll be around, etc. – with Johnny Keating and his orchestra – rec. 1962

Volume 5 (5PS94): George Chisholm and his All Stars:

Including: Bugle call rag; Sweet Lorraine; Everybody loves my baby; Dinah; Singin’ the blues; Mood indigo; I found a new baby, etc. – rec. 1962

George Chisholm and his Tradsters :

Including: That’s a plenty; Jazzin’ on a scale; Lazy; You took advantage of me; My mother’s eyes; Aunt Hagar’s blues, etc. – rec. 1961

Volume 6 (6PS94): George Franks, his Orchestra and Singers

Includes: April in Paris; Tea for two; On the sunny side of the street; I’m getting sentimental over you; Tuxedo junction; American patrol; Moonlight serenade; In the mood; Little brown jug; Take the A train; Mood indigo; Solitude; In a sentimental mood, etc.



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