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The following are reviews by Brian Wilson at Music
"DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dances, Op.46 (B83) recorded by
the Czech Philharmonic and Václav Talich in July 1950 - Beulah have
done very well by the 1950 – well enough, indeed, for the idiomatic and
lively performances to be very enjoyable.
Ansermet’s Mother Goose Suite (mono LXT5426 – the
stereo was not
released until 1960) was hailed as offering ‘magical performances …
splendidly reproduced’ and that remains as good a summing-up as any.
I’ve seen Ma Mère l’Oye described as boring: it’s far from it in this
performance. With the additional movements, Ansermet’s selection falls
little short of the complete ballet. If I have given less space than to
the Slavonic Dances, make no mistake: I thoroughly enjoyed both halves
of this release. "
"Scholarly opinion now inclines to
the belief that if Bach actually composed BWV565 it was as a deliberate
decision to employ an older style. No convincing alternative composer
has been mooted, however, so Bach it remains at least for the present
and the work continues to be as popular as ever. The RFH organ in 1960
had its shortcomings, but they were less apparent in Bach than some
other composers: Ralph Downes made a notable series of Bach recordings
on it for Pye and Beulah have included his BWV540 on The Art of J.S.
"Gamba used to be known as Pierino: I’m not sure
started referring to him by his ‘proper’ name, but the familiar form
seems more appropriate for the joyful overture collections which he
The mono Cenerentola Overture inevitably sounds thin immediately after
the Bach in stereo but the ear soon adjusts and the performance is very
"Jensen’s Nielsen is about as authoritative as it
gets. As with
the Rossini, the transfer is good enough to allow appreciation of the
performance, which won new friends for the work and can stand
comparison with any of the more recent offerings
"The oldest recording comes last: Louis Kentner and
Thomas Beecham collaborating in an early Mozart piano concerto. It may
seem surprising that Kentner was thought in 1940 to lack a little
delicacy until we remember that Mozart’s piano writing was customarily
treated then like Meissen porcelain and Kentner, an under-rated
pianist, adopts a more robust style that would hardly be out of place
now. Actually Meissen is tougher than it looks and so is Mozart: if
anything I found the orchestral contribution a little too delicate by
comparison with more recent recordings. That’s partly due to the fairly
thin and somewhat shrill recording; though it has come up sounding well
for its age, it’s not quite the miracle that Beulah sometimes achieve
with 78s. "
"Kathleen Ferrier’s legendary 1952
recording of three Rückert-Lieder remains available with her even more
famous Das Lied von der Erde on Decca Legends but the Beulah release
will be preferable for those who, like me, remain impervious to her
Lied. I make an exception, however, in the case of these three Rückert
songs and the recording – another problem, I suspect, in my
appreciation of her voice – has come up surprisingly well in this
"Ferdinand Grossman made a number of recordings of
masses for Vox, not always with the best of soloists, but in this case
he had a distinguished team and even the Vienna Symphony Orchestra –
also credited as the Vienna Pro Musica – give of their best. You will,
however, find most of the tempi slow.
Mozart never finished this work, though it had been promised as a
present to his wife Constanze. It’s sometimes recorded with the missing
sections filled in from other Mozart masses but Grossman gives us only
echt Mozart; look elsewhere if you want a ‘complete’ version. The
recording remains a little fuzzy. "
"Beulah have an uncanny knack of
reissuing better-sounding transfers of recordings on which I got to
know particular works. Van Beinum’s Brahms First is a case in point The
performance remains competitive – a safe recommendation – and the
recording has come up reasonably well. It wouldn’t be my only choice
for a recording of this symphony but I’m pleased to have it as an
alternative to the craggy Klemperer or the smoother Karajan . The big
Beethoven-like tune in the finale grows organically out of its
surroundings, as it should and does in the best recordings.
"With two large-scale works coupled, this is a
generously filled album.
"If anything, the Second Piano Concerto recording is
of a classic than the symphony: as reissued by Testament it was a
well-deserved Building a Library first choice in 2001. That CD remains
available, with some piano pieces as fillers, but the Beulah release is
less expensive and the more generous coupling will probably have
greater appeal. Again, it wouldn’t be my only choice, but it makes the
Backhaus-Böhm classic from 1967 sound stodgy. Solomon and Dobrowen
should make a fine adjunct to any collection Solomon – he usually
dispensed with his surname – plays superbly, emphasising the poetic
aspects of the music, and he’s very well supported though you may never
have heard of Issay Dobrowen (sometimes spelled Dobroven). The
recording has been extremely well transferred: apart from some marginal
distortion at peaks, as if the VU meters had gone into the red zone,
the sound is almost preferable to the Beinum, with but the merest hint
of 78 noise, and the balance between piano and orchestra is very good.
That’s all the more remarkable an achievement when one reads in the
review from 1947 that the tone was considered a touch dry.
" Hans Gillesberger made the first recording of
this ‘Mass in Time of War’ in 1950; it was made in Vienna with the
State Opera, sponsored by the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston and
released by Parlophone. He re-recorded the work for Vox in 1962, again
in Vienna but with different soloists, choir and orchestra, and this is
the one which Beulah have included on this download, albeit from a mono
release of a recording also made in stereo.
The performance is dignified, the soloists good, but the choral and
orchestral support no more than adequate at times and the recording not
much more than acceptable, with the soloists faring much better than
chorus and orchestra. I enjoyed hearing it again but there are far
better versions to be had
"The conductor of the popular Trumpet Concerto, Kurt
Redel, had himself been the flute soloist in another Haydn concerto and
he accompanies an enjoyable performance. This US Angel recording has
come up sounding well.
"To return to 1952 mono for the final Exsultate
Jubilate is to
enter a thinner sound-world. I love Hilde Gueden in the right
repertoire, which includes her role in the Kleiber Figaro but there is
too much vibrato here, though light by the standards of the time. Her
singing is not without awareness of appoggiatura, and technically very
impressive on the top notes, but the style is out of place when we are
used to the likes of Emma Kirkby . Gueden and Erede omit some of the
repeats and take the closing Alleluia very sedately: on paper only
slightly slower than Kirkby and Hogwood but sounding more deliberate. "
" I was especially interested to
hear this recording of the Bruckner because I don’t remember ever
having encountered it.
I wasn’t expecting too much from the Steinberg, so I was very
pleasantly surprised at the result. You could hardly mistake it for
other than a product of its age, with the brass sounding dry, but
Beulah have made this vintage Capitol recording, also issued on one LP,
well worth hearing. Steinberg adopts some pretty fast tempi, which
generally work well, though some of the players very occasionally have
trouble keeping up, as if used to something slower or with fewer
changes of tempo. I enjoyed the performance and the recording is good
enough not to modify that enjoyment, but I should warn readers that
another reason why Capitol were able to fit this to a single disc is
that there is a considerable cut of 60+ bars in the slow movement,
reducing what normally takes around 15:40 to 12:51.
"The Collins performances of the Carmen pieces was
one of the earliest Decca LPs. he recording was very good for its age –
even the 78s were hailed as ‘another triumph for ffrr (full frequency
range recording)’ – though it sounds just a little dry now. Anthony
Collins’ recordings are always interesting and Beulah have made
something of a speciality of them over the years, not least his
Sibelius. His Bizet is not quite in that class and doesn’t quite have
the magic of Beecham but it is very enjoyable and the LPO play for him
with gusto. "
" The contents of this release may
be even more diverse than the others but it enshrines three classic
performances, any one of which would make it worthwhile for me. The
Griller Quartet recruited William Primrose for their recording of K515
which originally appeared on the Fontana label. The string tone on the
LP releases was always a little wiry but Beulah have tamed that on this
transfer of what remains a very fine performance.
"There are very fine recordings of the Liszt at all
I wouldn’t put the François-Silvestri partnership in quite the same
league as, for example, Richter and Kondrashin.
Even when it was released in 1961 HMV seem to have thought it
uncompetitive with the very best and issued it on their budget Concert
Classics label, but it fully justifies its appearance in this
collection. Reviewing the partnership in both concertos in an earlier
Beulah incarnation I marginally preferred them in No.2.
"In 2013 I compared the BIS with the Decca Eloquence
of the Flagstad – a much better transfer than on the Ace of Diamonds LP
which I used to own. The Beulah release also presents this wonderful
recording in a better light than I remember; there’s very little
difference between it and the Decca. I know that there are those as
antipathetic to Flagstad as I (mostly) am to Callas and it’s true that
she sounded much better in her heyday but these are treasurable
performances; I shall probably play them more often than the rest of
the programme. "
diverse contents again but with the very generous playing time you
could regard this as a good way to obtain a classic account of the
Bruckner, a work still often given an album to itself, and regard the
Bach and Handel as bonuses.
"They don’t play Bach like this any more, though
they did for
a long time after this Weingartner recording. A recording of historical
interest, then, rather than a recommendation, though the transfer is
amazingly good for its age, with the merest trace of 78 surface noise.
"The Geraint Jones Zadok the Priest, recorded for
stylistically ahead of its time and the performance would hardly be out
of place even in our authentically-minded times. The performance is
smaller-scale than, say, the classic King’s recording, or at the
coronation of George II, but infinitely better sung than in that
original ceremony when the music was reportedly in disarray.
"Of course Bruno Walter’s recording of Bruckner’s
made far too early to have included the fourth movement completion
which has featured on some recent recordings.
Abbado gives the first and third movements a little more time to
breathe than Walter, at tempi closer to those of Otto Klemperer, but
there’s no sense in which they sound rushed in the Walter recording,
though he perhaps over-stresses the feierlich half of the marking
slightly at the expense of the misterioso in the first movement. In the
case of Bruckner’s Ninth I could be very happy with Klemperer or this
transfer of the Walter. The Beulah transfer of what was always a good
recording can’t match the newer Abbado, ultimately my first choice for
the three-movement Ninth, but it won’t interfere with your enjoyment of
a sensitive performance. "
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