This celebrated recording united the critics in unanimous praise; and, for
myself, I cannot think of any readings to surpass them, not even the Karl
Böhm's heavenly reading of the Fifth Symphony on Decca. The Gramophone
critic commented "
these extremely charming and elegant performances
with exquisitely polished playing, afford deep pleasure."
Beecham loved these works deeply and prepared meticulously for these recordings.
After much thought and study during which the orchestral parts would become
a mass of blue pencil annotations, Beecham experimented at length during
rehearsals until he got the precise effects he sought. As Lyndon Jenkins
says in his excellent liner notes, "
..the huge success of these
performances really stems from one
exceptional quality: Beecham's sense
The Symphony No.3 dates from 1815 (in which year, astonishingly, Schubert
wrote over 200 compositions). It is a cheerful, youthful work full of
high-spirits and lyricism. Beecham's reading is elegant, eloquent and sunny,
with the most beautiful instrumental phrasing - particularly from the woodwinds.
To quote Lyndon Jenkins again, "For examples of what one critic termed 'Beecham's
preposterously elegant phrasing', listen to the rhythmic élan of the
oboe in the first movement's second subject, or the relaxed elegance of the
clarinet in the central section of the slow movement; then there is the strings'
poise and eloquence everywhere; the fine balance between the different sections
of the orchestra so that what is intended to be heard is heard with ease;
the liveliness of the rhythms, and the adroit employment of a whole range
of dynamics to provide variety to the listening ear.
Jenkins remarks could be equally applied to Beecham's readings of the other
two symphonies too. The Fifth Symphony sings joyfully but it has that extra
property, that quality which he shares with Böhm - a deep sense of humanity
that shines through in the contrasting more deeply felt moments of this lovely
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