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What's New for May

New from Beulah Extra

Reviews quoted are from Brian Wilson's monthy Download reviews at Music Web International

jesu joy of mans desiring
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A brief and enjoyable reminder of those recitals which Myra Hess gave at the National Gallery as her contribution to morale and the war effort, from an HMV recording which originally coupled a Scarlatti Sonata. A contemporary review uses just about every glowing epithet that its writer could think of, concluding ‘No lovelier, more entirely satisfactory record has come my way for many a long day. Everyone must get it.’ Now Beulah offer it for a fraction of the equivalent of the original price on 78. I’d expected Hess to lay on the emotion rather too thickly, but she lets the music speak for itself. For once, I’m not going to disparage the concert grand in Bach – the music wasn’t written for the keyboard, so a harpsichord or fortepiano would be no more authentic – and the recording is good enough not to hinder the modern listener’s enjoyment.
Boult Beetoven symphony number three
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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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Beulah have already given us Kleiber’s recording of the Eroica (5-8BX6 – see February 2011 Roundup). Boult’s reading is rather less individual – good middle of the road, lighter than Kleiber – but the recording requires a great deal of tolerance even though Beulah have tidied up the reverberation which was originally a problem, at the expense of making the sound rather dry now. I prefer the Kleiber, but the recording there, too, is mono only and far from ripe.
delius on hearing the first cuckoo in spring
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delius walk to the paradise garden
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The Dutton CD transfer of these and other ‘classic’ Toye recordings of Delius is no longer available, so these Beulah releases are timely. Delius is reported to have admired Toye’s recordings of his music, though he’s better known today as the composer of the ballet The Haunted Ballroom.

Beulah have already given us Beecham’s Cuckoo – the version par excellence. These performances by Toye are nothing like as special, nor is the recording in the same league though it’s very good for its age and Beulah have done a really fine job of keeping the surface noise down while maintaining the quality of the sound.
adrian boult elgar falstaff
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With Elgar’s own historical version and Sir Andrew Davis’s highly-praised digital recording on a super-budget Warner Apex CD it might seem that this particular musical larder is fully stocked. But there’s always room for Boult’s interpretation, characterised at the time of its first release on a 10" Nixa mono LP as riper, more genial and expressive than its Decca rival from Anthony Collins. I concur with all those adjectives – I’d even say that they applied to this version even more than to Davis – and the recording still sounds well, though it’s no match for the Warner version in that respect. Like the original LP, the transfer benefits from a boost in volume.
dvorak sympnony numbero 8 basil cameron
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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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This 1945 recording is no match for Kubelík or Fischer sonically – there’s even a touch of surface noise, unusual for Beulah – though the ear soon adjusts to the lack of the higher frequencies. The performance, which opens very winsomely, is one of the best, Kubelík and Fischer included
leanner pesther waltz
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Many of Lanner’s waltzes are of such high quality that it’s easy to see why he was such a rival for the Strauss family. I don’t think I’d heard this one before – presumably written for the Hungarian city of Pesth before its union with Buda across the river. It’s no rival to the hegemony of the Strausses, but it’s pleasant music, idiomatically performed. The recording is a trifle thin, but good for its age – more than acceptable – and well worth the modest price.
mozart symphony 29 davis
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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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mozart symphony 39 davis
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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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This was an LP which remained a staple of my library for many years. No.29 opens rather slowly, though the delicacy of the playing from the Sinfonia of London and Davis’s pointing of the music compensate, apart from some rather off-form wind playing in the third movement.

Davis’s Mozart is certainly not the only show in town but his recordings of it with the Sinfonia of London, later the LSO and later still the Dresden Staatskapelle rank among the best. Even now the recording sounds well, nicely capturing the lightweight performance of No.29 and the rather heavier one of No.39.
mozart piano concerto number20 annie fischer
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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The virtues of Annie Fischer’s Mozart remain undiminished by the passage of years – indeed, I think what was described in 1960 as a somewhat masculine style is closer to what we expect now, and it’s offset by some really delicate playing in the slow movement. With well judged accompaniment from Boult and the Phiharmonia – I hardly noticed the off-tune woodwind in the first movement – the recording still sounds well. It captures the divided strings which Boult rightly insisted on
mozart violin concerto number 3 oistrakh
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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The Oistrakh recording appeared in harness with Prokofiev. His Mozart is still as much a delight as it was then; it’s no longer yoked to an unlikely fellow and the recording still sounds fresh. The soloist acting as conductor is no longer such a novelty, but I don’t remember anyone doing the double act better. Oistrakh opened my ears to the magic of the Beethoven Violin Concerto at the Festival Hall in the early 1960s and he’s equally persuasive with Mozart. Two feathers in Beulah’s cap, then.
van beinum la gazza ladra overture
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this is an enjoyable performance and the recording is reasonably good for its early-LP date, if a little more muffled than you might expect; indeed, when it first appeared on LXT2733, this was the one overture to be excepted from the adjective ‘brilliant’.
Wagner Albumlatt
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Unusual Wagner – not what you’d expect at all. The recording is rather thin and tonally insecure but this is currently one of only two ways to obtain this arrangement of a pleasant little work originally for the piano. The other is on a CD of recordings by David Oistrakh – with the Beethoven Triple Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto (Monopole MONO16). If you want the Wagner on its own, here it is for a very modest sum. The piano original seems not to be available.
Wagner Morgenlich leuchtend im rosigen - Lauritz Melchoir
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Enjoy listening to our new releases on our YouTube channel.

Music for a Royal Wedding

The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London's Westminster Abbey on April 29 was an occasion for music. The march at the end of the ceremony was Crown Imperial by William Walton written for the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The original recording is available on 2PD12 Boult's Planets.

Crown Imperial is also available in stereo played by the Eastman Wind Ensemble conducted by Frederick Fennell on 1PD82 English Wind Band Classics

Traditionally there is a fanfare (this time by members of the Central Band of the RAF), traditional English church music with the Abbey choir and organ solo by the abbey organist James O'Donnell. Visit our Royal wedding music page.

What the critics say

Britten Premieres

1PD14 Britten Premieres
Features the original soundtrack from Way to the Sea (1937) conducted by the composer and gramophone premieres of;

  • Around the Village Green; Irish Reel
  • Soirees Musicales
- Charles Brill Orchestra
  • Introduction and Rondo alla Burlesca
  • Mazurka Eligiaca
- Benjamin Britten and Clifford Curzon (pianos)
  • A Ceremony of Carols
- Morriston Boys Choir, Maria Korchinska (harp), conductor Ivor E Sims

Although no longer availabe on disc you can download the tracks for only £0.79 each or £7.99 for the whole album from itunes

When the items conducted by Charles Brill were first reviewed, in 1938, Britten was still regarded as a ‘pleasant’ composer, with ‘a lively talent’, whose orchestrations, though ‘perhaps rather strident [seemed] well in tune with the days in which we live.’ Autre temps autre mœurs: now we can enjoy Britten’s Rossini orchestrations without any such consideration and these first performances allow us to do so in sound which still sounds perfectly acceptable.

Way to the Sea, complete here with narrative, was a jingoistic film in praise of Portsmouth, its naval and transport connections. The film’s sense of history may be a little creative – far from being a resounding success, as claimed, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle makes it clear that King Alfred’s longships at best achieved a stand-off with the Danes – one was ignominiously grounded. This is more of a curiosity, with its dated travelogue manner, than the Night Mail music; I enjoyed hearing it, but I’m not sure how many more times I shall turn to it.

The Ceremony of Carols was still a novelty in 1946 and required a long, detailed and mainly appreciative description from Alec Robertson, who also had very high praise for Maria Korchinska’s perfect realisation of the harp part and only slightly less for the conductor and choir. Actually, the boys are a little more fallible than AR realised but, even now, with a host of more recent versions, this well-transferred recording – just a light background hiss – of an idiomatic premiere is still well worth hearing.

AR was less appreciative in 1945 of the Introduction and Rondo, which he likened to assault and battery, though he ended up enjoying both it and the Mazurka, a tribute to Paderewski, nevertheless. Apart from a tendency for the pianos to sound like ‘unpleasant xylophones’ in the highest register, he had high praise for the performance and recording. By modern standards the piano tone is harsh, but the performances are self-recommending. Curzon and Britten were, of course, to go on to co-operate in some distinguished Mozart recordings much later (Decca Legends 468 4912 – Piano Concertos 20 and 27, coupled with equally fine Curzon/Kertész recordings).

Brian Wilson at Music Web International

Top Ten Downloads

Currently our top selling downloads are ;

  1. Sullivan - The Lost Chord - Peter Dawson
  2. Brahms - Symphony No4 - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Max Fiedler
  3. Herold - Zampa Overture - LPO Basil Cameron
  4. Bach Cantata No 54 Helen Watts Philomusica
  5. Amy Woodforde-Finden - Four Indina Love Lyrics - Peter Dawson
  6. Tchaikovsky - Mazeppa Hopak - Halle Orchestra Hamilton Harty
  7. Strauss - Zigeunerbaron (Gipsy Baron) Overture - LPO Erich Kleiber
  8. Rossini/Respighi - La Boutique Fantasque - Israel Philharmonic Solti
  9. Dvorak -Symphony No. 8 - National Symphony Orchestra Basil Cameron

Listen to the top ten.

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