A must for Beecham fans
kreisleriana16 | Minneapolis, MN USA | 10/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This BBC performance was broadcast on a classical music FM station in 1964. The concert itself took place in the late 1950's towards the end of the conductor's life. The 7th was originally commerically on HMV ASD311 and later on an Angel CD. The concert has been available before on other labels. The commerical release (first published in 1959 on HMV) and the live performance are similar. I suspect that the HMV recording came either just before or after the BBC concert. Sir Thomas compared the 7th Symphony to a bunch of jumping or dancing yaks, as I recall. This performance literally dances from the first to the final movements. Tempos tend to be a bit fast at times but never rushed. Despite the fast tempos there is a sense of good ensemble and control. The tempi, for example, is almost in complete contrast to Bernstein's last performance, for example.Typical of that time, Beecham does not repeat the exposition in the first movement but for reasons that defy logic takes a repeat in the third movement's "A" section. Today's performances normally include just about every repeat in the score.Beecham was a favorite of many orchestras. His wit was entertaining to the musicians but his baton control was unsurpassed. Beecham's own remarks about "as long as we start and finish together" are legendary, but in this performance everything is quite together, thank you.Unlike the commercial recordings of these works we are treated to some live commentary and wit by Beecham preceeding the encores. The encores themselves fall into the "lollypop" category: little musical sweet morsals. Beecham's remarks, however, range from putting the audiance to sleep to what must have been a television interview that he shared with Maria Callas, who, accoring to Beecham, would not let him get a word in edgewise.All in all this is a must. While the sound lacks the control of a studio recording, it has the spirit of a live performance. Moreover, while the performance itself of the works are outstanding it is the total picture including Beecham's commentary that makes it a must. We can only hope for more Beecham from Audio, the BBC and EMI."
Captures the magic of a Beecham concert.
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 07/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Polishing his spectacles with a large white silk handkerchief, the shapeless little man ambles slowly through the orchestra ranks, mounts the rostrum, dons his spectacles, calmly surveys the cheering audience, and signals the beginning of a stupendous performance of the British National Anthem. Such is my recollection of how many nights of music making began in London concert halls or Covent Garden Opera House during the 1950s when Sir Thomas Beecham conducted. Seated far back, in the cheapest seats, I was never close enough to see how Beecham worked with his performers, but it was always clear that he, his performers, and the audience were enjoying themselves immensely. This impression is wonderfully well-communicated in this splendid issue from the BBC's archives of a 1959 concert. Apart from John Addison's 1953 ballet suite "Carte blanche", Beecham and his orchestra had recently studied, rehearsed and recorded all these works. Comparing the commercial studio recordings with these live performances has been interesting. Whereas everything in the recorded performances is classically moulded, carefully judged and perfectly balanced, the same works at the concert sound as if they are being newly-created. When the cheering has died down after the fastest Beethoven's Seventh I have ever heard, Beecham says to the audience, "If you applaud like that, I'm made to wonder if I shall ever be permitted to go home". He then offers three of his so-called "lollipops": serene, cool little pieces contrasting with the Bacchanalian excesses of the Beethoven symphony's finale. The sound quality is much as any audience member in the Royal Festival Hall might have heard it in 1959. Extensive notes and many photographs add considerably to the value offered by this 75 minute CD."
A real party piece 7th
R. J. Claster | Van Nuys, CA United States | 08/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have had this wonderful performance of the Beethoven 7th for a number of years on the Music and Arts label (which has different companion pieces, except for sharing the Mendelssohn overture), and it has always been my favorite for the infectious joy it conveys. Yes, the tempos are fast, even more so than the likes of Toscanini, Carlos Kleiber, Reiner or Szell, but they never sound rushed or hard driven, because Beecham brings out the dance element in the music more adeptly than anyone else that I have heard. The audience immediately bursts into applause at the end, which suggests to me that they felt the same way as I."