What the Critics Say
The following are reviews by Brian Wilson at Music Web International
"Beecham’s way with Schubert was as magic as anything that he did, even though – or because – he tinkered with the score in several places.
"The 1953 sound is inevitably thin and not without a trace of distortion but I’m willing to compromise in this case for the sake of the wonderful performances, first released in the UK by Philips in 1955 (ABL3001). Though Sony reissued the performances from the master tape in 2003, the result reportedly made the orchestra sound over-large by comparison with these LP transfers. "
"Goldmark’s Rustic Wedding Symphony may not be a masterpiece but it contains some of the most beautiful music that I know. I fell in love with it many years ago from the classic Beecham recording on Philips GL5719, last seen on Sony SMK87780 but now deleted. Having suggested that Beulah should reissue their single-track releases on an album it’s no sooner said than done, together with two other very enjoyable Beecham reissues. For the sheer enjoyment of hearing Beecham work his customary magic in making a good second-rate work sound almost first-rate I shall continue to turn to the Beulah reissue. I received it in lossless wav sound and I strongly recommend downloading in lossless sound from Qobuz when it appears there, rather than the watered-down mp3 which iTunes and Amazon still cling to. I’m not a fan of dated recordings per se but Beulah have made this sound, if anything, even better than on their earlier release. The Dvořák Legend which opens the Beulah recording was recorded in stereo in 1959 and has come up sounding well, if a trifle top-heavy. The Golden Spinning Wheel dates from three 78s released in 1949 and sounds, inevitably, thinner, though very good for its age in this transfer. As so often, it was Beecham’s recording which introduced the work to the listening public. I very much enjoyed this reissue."
Reissue of the Month
"If you had asked me to nominate classic recordings of the Ravel and
Honegger, these would have been among the front-runners alongside
Pierre Monteux (Ravel, various Decca couplings) and Herbert von Karajan
(Honegger, DG Originals). Add an enjoyable account of the Porgy and
Bess Symphonic Picture by its arranger and some authoritative Delius
from Sir Thomas Beecham in a collection running over the putative
80-minute limit and this must receive a clear recommendation,
especially as the Ansermet Honegger is otherwise available only in a
3-CD set and RCA’s own transfers of the Ravel seem to come and go, more
often the latter.
"The 78 recording of the Delius requires only a very
small degree of tolerance, far less than I expected: it sounds more
like an early LP transfer – indeed, it’s greatly superior to the
Fontana and Philips LPs on which it was released. I’m surprised to see
that Trevor Harvey praised the sound on
the Philips transfer because I recall quite the opposite: I’m sure that
I would have warmed to the North Country Sketches immediately if they
had sounded as good as this. I
listened to the Naxos transfer of the same recording as streamed
in lossless sound from their own classicsonlinehd.com and marginally
preferred the Beulah transfer as having more body.
"Beecham transposed the order of the two central
Sketches, Winter Landscape and Dance, presumably to suit the exigencies
of 78 sides: both Naxos and Beulah have reset them in the correct
"There’s no connecting theme other than very fine performances of twentieth-century music – and the fact that two of the composers died in 1937, by pure coincidence – but I’m certainly not complaining. "
I very much enjoyed this trip down memory lane, with two superb tenors, one in decent 1942 78 sound, the other in good stereo from 1959 and 1960, and one who at his best was very good but developed a negative reputation for those times when, at less than that best, he just made a loud noise. Most of all I enjoyed Fritz Wunderlich, making the two arias from Flotow sound just the right degree sentimental, and very well supported by Gottlob Frick.