Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Hector Berlioz, Sir Thomas Beecham, Frederick Riddle|
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Listen to Samples
Thrilling performances in generally vivid sound.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 10/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who has clicked onto this item will already be familiar with the career and reputation of the great English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Complementing an extremely busy performing schedule, he clocked up a discography that possibly "created a record" amongst conductors. Those who experienced his "live" as distinct from his "recorded" work always claimed that there was even more magic, more fire, and a suppler moulding of phrasing in the latter. This claim can now be widely tested as more and more broadcasts of "live" performances are exhumed from the BBC archives. This splendid issue allows you to hear him conducting Berlioz at concerts given between 1951 and 1956. Like the writer of the excellent booklet, Graham Meville-Mason, I was present at one of these concerts. As a very young man, I was fascinated to see how the trombone players coped with the slides on their instruments at the sizzling pace with which Beecham directed the final section of the overture "Le Corsair". "So what is the sound quality like, and how do these performances compare with Beecham's studio recordings of these works?" I hear you ask. I can report that the sound quality ranges from good to outstanding. All credit to the original radio engineers, and those responsible for the remastering! The timpani might be a little too obtrusive in "Le Corsair" and the overall sound a little "dry" in the "Marche troyenne", but there are no other defects. Indeed, the sound quality of the string playing (always reputed to be unique in a Beecham orchestra) is beautifully realized. Yes, there are audience coughs to be heard here and there. Somehow, they too sound so realistic and well recorded that a sense of an actual performance is enhanced. "Harold en Italie" poses problems in recording a live performance. There are long passages requiring the solo viola player to provide soft broken chords to accompany wind soloists from the orchestra, and microphoning tends to give undue prominence to the viola. This problem has been better solved here than it was in a studio recording Beecham directed in 1951, five years before the broadcast performance found here. I have compared all these performances with studio recordings Beecham directed, and all but the "Marche troyenne" are much to be preferred. All of which adds up to a very strong recommendation for this five star issue."
Historic performances, but historic sound, too
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The reviewer below who calls this good sound must be listening to records through a paper cup. These BBC broadcasts from 1951-56 feature a deceont-sounding Harold in Italy from an Edinbrugh Festival concert (annoyingly full of coughs), but even here the solo viola sounds whiny and dim, and the other items are in dreadful sound that is boxy and shrill. After releasing several better-sounding concerts from Beecham, BBC Legends bowed to public demand for his live Berlioz. But these performances don't justify the sonic cost. Violist Frederic Riddle can be painfully out of tune, and although Beecham's orchestral reading of Harold in Italy is exuberant, we have a classic studio recording from him with William Primrose. In fact, this whole CD duplicates material that is either better performed by Beecham or better sounding, so I can't drum up much enthusiasm for it unless you are a die-hard fan."