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last updated 14 June 2011
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New from Beulah Extra

Beulah Extra now available on CD You can now select Beulah Extra download tracks and have them supplied on compact disc. The limit is 75 minutes of music per disc. Each disc costs GBP11.45 post free (standard mail/airmail worldwide, signed for or registered mail will be charged extra). Allow 14 days for delivery.
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Reviews quoted are from Brian Wilson's monthy Download reviews at Music Web International

tchaikovsky symphony number two
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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4th movement
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The sound is surprisingly good for its age and the lively performance was certainly worth preserving.
tchaikovsky symphony number five
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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4th movement
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tchaikosky symphony number six
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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4th movement
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Munch re-recorded the Pathétique at least once, in 1962 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (SB6550), a version which did not meet with much critical acclaim – indeed when it was reissued on CD, there were unfavourable comparisons with ‘the Munch of old’. Here is that ‘Munch of old’ in a convincing performance of the symphony, nothing to mark down on my critical slate, but nothing that throws any fresh light on the work either. The 1948 recording was still deemed good enough to be issued on LP in 1951. It won’t spoil your enjoyment of the performance, though it sounds more restricted than I had expected for its date. As usual, Beulah have delivered a transfer free of extraneous noises.
elgar cello concerto anthony pini
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1st and 2nd movements
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3rd and 4th movements
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I’m not sure if it’s because this Pini/Beinum recording was my introduction to the work, but I’ve come to feel over the years that the classic Du Pré recording milks the emotion too much, and I’m happy to return to this more straightforward reading, especially now that the sound is immeasurably improved on that Ace of Clubs release. If you thought that the Elgar Cello Concerto was too intense for your liking, this may be just the corrective that you were looking for.
adrian boult elgar enigma variations
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The 1936 recording sounds amazingly well in the Beulah transfer, with the merest hint of surface noise. Though Boult took four minutes less than in 1970 or 1971, there’s never any suggestion of haste about his 1936 version, nor did I ever think that the tempi had been unduly dictated by 78 rpm side lengths. A classic very effectively restored at a very reasonable price.

The CHARM project offers the same BBCSO/Boult 78s Enigma free but in a noticeably thinner (though acceptable) transfer with a degree of surface noise and slight distortion -you also have the nuisance of the gaps at the ends of five of the six 78 sides. Try it there and, if you enjoy it, as I think you will, buy the Beulah.
adrian boult humperdinck hansel and gretel overtuture
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This sounds well for its age and the performance is as reliable as almost any Boult recording of any vintage is bound to be. Now that concerts so rarely begin with an overture and symphonies which used to have an overture coupling on LP now run to two symphonies, there’s certainly a place for this reissue.
humperdinck hansel and gretel dance duet
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purcell nymphs and shepherds
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overture in g minor
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Now that Bruckner’s Symphonies and Masses are firmly established repertoire, this attractive but untypical Overture isn’t often performed: I believe the only current rival is offered as a filler to Lovro von Matacic’s recording of the ‘Romantic’ Symphony on Testament SBT1050. Sir Henry Wood gives a jaunty performance and few allowances have to be made for the recording.
symphony number nine
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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As recently as 2008 the Sony reissue of this ‘Indian Summer’ recording was being used as the benchmark against which new recordings of the Ninth were judged and often found wanting. The recording was good for its time and, despite some haziness at the very beginning, still sounds well enough for this to be the prime recommendation for many listeners.
leo concerto
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This is taken from an early-1960 recording, SABL199, with music by Durante and Pergolesi, which I remember borrowing from the University Music Library. Leonardo Leo was not exactly a household name then, nor is he now, so I Musici’s championing of his music was and remains praiseworthy. I may not think I Musici the last word in baroque performance, as I did then, but this recording remains enjoyable – a little dogged in places, especially in the finale, but the playing is mainly sprightly.
vivaldi four seasons
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vivaldi four seasons
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vivaldi four seasons
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vivaldi four seasons
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I approached this recording extremely doubtful that we needed a reissued version of the Four Seasons of this vintage. Certainly Spring opens very quietly and rather heavily from the orchestra, but there’s some light and impressive fiddling from Olevsky and there’s a real feeling of variety – if anything, the contrast between louder and softer sections is too marked.

The slow movement observes the indication in the score for the viola, imitating the goatherd’s dog, to play louder than the rest, an indication which not everyone observes. (Si deve suonare sempre molto forte, e strappato). The overall tempo for this movement is much slower than is now the norm, but not to the extent that I found objectionable – after all, the goatherd is asleep. I did, however, feel like getting out to push the tempo along in the Spring finale and several times in the later concertos. The hunters in the Autumn concerto are never going to catch their prey at this pace. The Beulah transfer of the recording – originally made by Westminster – still sounds well.
vivaldi concerto
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Circa 1962, I used to think I Musici’s Vivaldi and the music of his Italian contemporaries the last word in authenticity – smaller-scale and rhythmically more enticing than the likes of Karl Münchinger and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Now their style seems almost as dated as Münchinger’s, with steady, rather sedate fast movements. It’s not so much a matter of timing – the Naïve recording of RV484 (OP30496) is only seconds shorter. Nevertheless, I enjoyed re-hearing I Musici in these two concertos, especially in RV532 where the playing is as lively as one could wish. Those who think modern period-instrument performances too fast and lacking in emotional engagement will enjoy them even more, especially as the recordings sound so well in these transfers.
vivaldi concerto
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Chopin Etude in C minor Op. 10 No.12 The Revolutionary
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Chopin prelude in A flat opus 28 number 17
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Chopin waltz in c sharp minor opus 64 number 2
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Chopin etude in c sharp minor opus 25 number 7
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Chopin etude ing flat opus 10 number 5
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liszt etdue de concert
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Ignacy Paderewski’s Chopin and Liszt is holy ground on which I almost fear to tread: like Albert Schweitzer, he was so famous for his extra-musical activities that his playing is almost beyond criticism.

I started with the 1923 Liszt recording, made when he was widely regarded as the greatest living pianist, even though he had only recently returned from his political to his musical career. The first surprise was how good the recording sounded, considering its age, the second that the style of playing didn’t sound completely alien, with sparing use of right-hand-before-left. There is some asynchronous playing – that used to be the style, though it was already becoming old-fashioned – but it’s perfectly tolerable. I didn’t find it enlightening, as I did the Chopin, however.

In Chopin, too, the sound is more than tolerable, though the 1917 G-flat Étude is less than ideal, and the playing still holds up well. These are important historical documents, but they’re much more, too, especially hearing Chopin from a Polish pianist only a couple of generations removed from the composer.
brahms hungarian dance
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brahms hungarian dance
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brahms hungarian dance
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brahms hungarian dance
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brahms hungarian dance
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brahms hungarian dance
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brahms hungarian dance
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Lively performances of this music, with a zigeuner lilt – performers from Brahms’s native Hamburg, yet playing like true Hungarians. The recording, first issued on a 10" LP, is a trifle muddy in the bass and shrill on top, but not so that it would spoil your enjoyment. Indeed, judging by the 1954 review comments, Beulah have managed to tame some of the shrillness and there’s no significant surface noise.
Gretry Cephale et Procris Ballet suite
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Grétry’s music is Beecham lollipop territory: his Suite from Zémire et Azore has just been reissued. (Beecham conducts French Music, EMI 9099322, 6 CDs). The Céphale et Procis ballet is equally enjoyable, though just lacking the Beecham magic. The recording is rather muffled – it sounds older than 1952, more like a 78 rpm recording of the 1940s – but acceptable and free from surface noise. Even in 1952 I note that a reviewer felt that the recording needed a treble boost, and I think the transfer would have benefited from a slight lift. André’s orchestra are no baroque specialists, though their playing is mostly lively enough, so the performance of Mottl’s arrangement sounds more like the kind of realisation that Walton or Respighi made of music of the period, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I enjoy Walton’s Wise Virgins ballet and the like.
couperin concert royaux number three in a major
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leclair sonata number seven
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The two Beulah reissues, 1BX135 and 2BX135, are taken from an award-winning DGG Archiv LP released in 1961 – French music played better than any French ensemble, according to a contemporary review. Since then we’ve had many recommendable recordings of Couperin ‘le Grand’ and Leclair, but these two reissues, still sounding stylish, are well worth their modest price, even if you have other recordings. The sound is a little dry, but not to the extent that it interferes with listening enjoyment.
messager les deux pigeons
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Tuneful and attractive music in an idiomatic performance and sound which belies its age: even though it’s a mono recording, there’s plenty of air around the music. This kind of blast from the past is most welcome.
svendsen carnival in paris
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The recording shows its age. Its roughness was commented on in reviewing a rival recording as long ago as 1954, but that doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of this lively performance of a lightweight piece.

New from iTunes

This month two new albums will be available at iTunes

peter dawson in classical mood listen and buy
purcell keyboard suites listen and buy
"I prefer Dart’s lighter approach and the Beulah refurbishment of the 1956 Decca recording is preferable. Dart appeals not only because he was such an important pioneer in editing, understanding and performing music of this period: his bright up-front closely recorded performances are still highly competitive. Purists may criticise some of his tempi and changes of registration – they did back in 1957 – but these make the music more accessible for modern listeners. Brian Wilson at Music Web International
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