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What's New for April

Sir Colin Davis 1927-2013

Colin recalled, a personal recollection by Beulah's Barry Coward

Back in 1967 when Sir Malcolm Sargent suffering from cancer could not continue conducting the Henry Wood Proms the forty year old Colin Davis took over both the Proms and as principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In those days the BCCSO and its conductor performed a significant percentage of the Prom concerts.

The contrast with Sargent was immediately apparent. Sargent would not have introduced us to Berlioz, epically the Te Deum. However coming to the BBC from the LSO where Colin had been abrasive with the orchestra was difficult for him. The first year was spent leaning to relate with musicians and motivating them. The people skills he learned at this stage in his career stayed with him for the rest of his life.

At first Promenaders were somewhat reticent of this new young firebrand. But he soon won an admiring following among this young audience eager to explore music that Sargent would not have countenanced at the Proms.

In those far off days performers and audience met in the same bar during intervals and would drink in the same pub afterwards. Colin became no stranger to the Queens Arms. When Promenaders Mike and Avril Eagleton were married in a church in South East London members of the BBCSO turned up with Colin to play for them, much to the happy couple's surprise. Sadly the rapport between audience and musicians has wained over the intervening years.

Outside the Proms season we would pack the seats at Studio 1 Maida Vale and even attend concerts Colin conducted with other orchestras. I recall one evening in St John's Smith Square. A group of Promenaders were eating the Crypt prior to an English Chamber Orchestra concert. Colin appeared slightly flustered. He had gone home after the rehearsal and had retuned sans baton. A pencil was produced with which he spent the evening conducting the most sublime Mozart concert.

Over the years I watched colin mature. His interpretations grew in depth and breath, but inevitability at the expense of losing some of the youthful enthusiasm that so suited both Mozart and Berlioz. His early recordings for WRC, Oiseau-Lyre and EMI retain some of that youthful exuberance which endeared him to young Promenaders.

Colin Davis recordings from Beulah

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Reveiws are by Brian Wilson at Music Web International
Gregorian chant
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Release due April 29
colin davis conducts mozart
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Release due April 22
BACH mass in b minor
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Praise from Kings
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ALBERT SCHWEITZER — SCHWEITZER'S BACH
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" This album is very welcome indeed. The playing may not quite be perfect but the majesty of the music comes over perhaps even more forcefully than on the recent Ton Koopman performances Nor does Schweitzer linger unduly over the music – though he was known for slow tempi, his recording of BWV565 is just seconds slower than Koopman’s. Even the earliest recordings sound very well indeed – I was about to add ‘for their age’, but no apology need be given. If I didn’t know better I’d think that Beulah had tried to bamboozle us with more recent recordings or had resorted to prestidigitation. The 1936 recordings have slightly less presence than their predecessors from a year earlier, but still sound remarkably well. The last recordings here, made in Schweitzer’s home town of Gunsbach, Alsace, now in France, are the least interesting – by that time his tempi had become really slow: his account of BWV641 takes more than twice as long as Koopman’s – but the album is highly valuable for the earlier recordings."

BERLIN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA — BRUCKNER: MASS NO. 2 IN E MINOR - TE DEUM IN C MAJOR
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Dennis Brain in Mozart chamber music
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contrasts in winds
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Critical View

muir mathieson's classics
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"The Sinfonia of London didn’t actually exist: the title conceals an ad hoc group of top musicians from the London orchestras who came together, in different permutations, to record for EMI and their subsidiary, World Record Club. Their recording of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik with Muir Mathieson is light and sprightly without ever sounding superficial and the 1958 stereo is still easy on the ear. The same comments apply to the stylish Schubert Symphony No.5 Muir Mathieson, better known as an arranger and conductor of film music, with the Sinfonia of London in the Sixth Symphony, Pathétique, from 1958 is not in the same class as Beulah’s reissue of Mravinsky’s recording of the Fourth. Nevertheless, though there are no revelatory insights, this is a sound performance with power where it’s needed and there’s tenderness, too, while the recording still sounds fine. The third movement goes with real abandon and the lamentoso aspect of the finale is all the more effective for not being overdone. The tempi are remarkably similar to those chosen by Mravinsky." Brain Wilson at Music Web International

colin davis conducts overtures
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"This is a very generous helping of early Colin Davis recordings. I agree with Edward Greenfield, who thought some of the performances a little too powerful, but that’s much better than making Mozart’s music sound too delicate and the strength of the music is by no means over-stressed here. I thought the William Tell overture just a little too refined, but probably that’s because I watched the Lone Ranger too much in my mis-spent youth, with its break-neck version of the end of this overture as its signature tune. As in the other overtures, it’s the affectionate charm of the performances that wins the day. All the recordings, top of the class in their day, still sound very well indeed thanks to Beulah’s re-mastering." Brain Wilson at Music Web International

classic walton
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"Classic Walton, indeed: of all the fine recordings of Belshazzar’s Feast this can claim to be the benchmark and the 1954 recording of Façade has never been equalled. ... The recording of Belshazzar received rave reviews on its first appearance in mono and again when it was released in stereo and though other fine versions have since appeared, not least from André Previn, it remains strongly competitive. Not everyone will think Donald Bell the ideal soloist – he’s a little too lyrical rather than dramatic – but that’s hardly enough to spoil my enjoyment and the recording wears its years very lightly. .. Façade also sounds well, though, it’s mono only. The performance is unequalled, even by the Hyperion recording. It’s this inimitable coupling that ultimately leads me to recommend the Beulah Belshazzar in preference to the slightly less expensive EMI twofer from hmvdigital.com." Brain Wilson at Music Web International

the famous cws manchester band
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"... the band is in great form throughout and the recording still sounds well in this transfer, with just a slight veiling of the sound and a slight degree of tonal instability on sustained notes by comparison with modern DDD offerings." Brain Wilson at Music Web International

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