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American Columbia Recordings 1942-1952
Sir Thomas Beecham
American Columbia Recordings 1942-1952
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #2

Sir Thomas Beecham spent much of the war in the U.S., and returned often. Sony's gathered some of his American recordings into this well-transferred Masterworks Heritage set. The two big works with the 1942 New Yorkers, ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Sir Thomas Beecham
Title: American Columbia Recordings 1942-1952
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Release Date: 12/9/1997
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Forms & Genres, Theatrical, Incidental & Program Music, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 074646336625

Sir Thomas Beecham spent much of the war in the U.S., and returned often. Sony's gathered some of his American recordings into this well-transferred Masterworks Heritage set. The two big works with the 1942 New Yorkers, the Mendelssohn Fourth and Sibelius Seventh, are OK, the Mendelssohn sprightly and bustling with wit, the Sibelius more matter-of-fact. But neither represents Beecham at his best; in fact, he sued Columbia to block their release and lost. They're still of interest and worth reissuing, but the real gems are the later recordings of lighter pieces with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the "Columbia Symphony," which Beecham, as always, made his own. The Carmen Suites have an irresistible swagger, Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien, enormous atmosphere, and the overtures, bounce and dash. Dan Davis

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CD Reviews

Excellent remasterings make this a cause of joy for Beecham
Alan Majeska | Bad Axe, MI, USA | 12/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I bought this 2 disc set in 1997 largely for reasons of nostalgia. I recall fondly a CBS "Odyssey" mono LP which I bought in August 1973 from a Doubleday Record store in downtown Detroit, Michigan and had in my collection for over 10 years. The LP performances are in this CD set: Bizet's CARMEN Suite,
Ponchielli's DANCE OF THE HOURS (La Giaconda), and Tchaikovsky's CAPRICCIO ITALIEN, all by Beecham/Columbia Symphony. Needless to say, the CD remasterings and absence of hiss, pops and ticks make the performances spring to new life, and are much superior to the Odyssey LP.

Beecham's Mendelssohn ITALIAN Symphony and Rimsky COQ D'OR movements with the New York Philharmonic are no less excellent. Even the 1942 Mendelssohn is very fine, and quite evenly balanced in all registers/ranges.

All tracks in this collection are Mono, and the Columbia Symphony tracks date from 1949. The New York tracks are from 1942-43, and also include a Sibelius Symphony 7 which Beecham attempted (in court) to keep from being published, but lost the suit.

Note: Beecham's 1949 OVERTURE TO THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR (Columbia Symphony)also in this collection - has one of the best played Allegro sections I've ever heard: spirit and brio which has to be heard to be believed; describing it in words doesn't do it justice."
Great musicianship from Beecham, but quite variable sound
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 2-CD set comes from Sony's lavish but short-lived "Masterworks Heritage" series, and I notice that it's being offered used here at an absurdly low price. The earliest recordings, from 1942 (Mendelssohn Sym. #4, Sibelius Sym. #7, and Capricico italien), come from the same recording sessions. Though perfectly cleaned up by the remastering engineers, their basic sound is gritty and dry. You have to turn them up to extract detail and color, but luckily they can withstand loud volume levels and then acquire considerably more presence. The performances themselves are excellent, putting the lie to Beecham's sad time sitting the war out in the U.S. (for which he was bitterly criticized in England). The reviewer who comments that the Sibelius is inferior to the Mendelssohn seems off base to me; these are both great performances.

At the end of CD 1 we get a marvelous Merry Wives of Windsor Over. from 1949, in noticeably better sound, though far from the best to be heard from that era.

CD 2 conintues the 1949 sessions with the kind of light classical material that Beecham was famous for. We get infectious performances of Ponchielli, Bizet, and a second go at Capricico italien. Since both CDs are genersouly timed at 75 min. and 70 min., this last doesn't seem too wasteful. Then we jump back to 1942 for the Le Coq d'Or Suite, which is spoiled for me by the nasty sonics, despite Beecham's obvious relish for this colorful score. The final Rossini Semiradmide Over. dates from 1952 with the Philadelphia Orch., and the sound is about the same as from 1949. I found hte performance rather ordinary, however.

Since I am not a fan of light classics, much of this collection wouldn't top my list of Beecham greats, and the most appealing items, the two symphonies, are in the worst sonics. Even so, this is a valuable collection, particularly if you can get it used at a low price. BTW more of Beecham's American Columbia recordings have been newly reissued by Sony, although they are more readily available in the UK than here."