There's a lot more gold than dross in this anniversary colle
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not much attention is being paid to this commemorative box released by the Londo Phil., but of the four discs, three are unusually interesting. The first captures Thomas Beecham in a live concert from 1934, two years after he founded the orchestra.
(Here's an extended review of the disc: http://www.amazon.com/Founding-Years-Conducts-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B000B865BE/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1236554429&sr=1-14)
The other disc of interest features a wide range of recordings under Sir Adrian Boult, the most notable conductor of the LPO in the postwar years. Except for "The Lark Ascending" of Vaughan Williams, the compilers were wise in avoiding English music -- anyone who knows Boult's career already associates him with that. Instead, we get some unusual fare, among them, Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor Over. from 1950, four German Dances of Haydn from 1955, and Sibelius's En Sage from 1956 (in stereo, I think -- the notes don't say). Boult is shown off at his alert, vigorous best here. He may follow in Beecham's footsteps by eschewing interpretations in depth, but his energies are never wasted.
The third disc of interest covers the early postwar period when the Dutch conductor Eduard van Beinum became chief conductor. He was a find, and he loved both English music and English music-making, but van Beinum[s health forced him to retire after only a season or two. Luckily, his recorded legacy was large for such a tragically short-lived conductor, and his LPO recordings are very worthwhile, even though I found them uneven.
(Here's an extended review of tis disc: http://www.amazon.com/Post-War-Revival-Eduard-conducts-Beethoven/dp/B000F9SZMQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1236555233&sr=1-4 )
The fourth disc in this set is oddly narrow, since it consists of two Khachaturian concertos, for violin and piano, the first being brass-plated junk that continues to hang on in the repertoire of Russian fiddlers, the second forgettable and forgotten. They are conducted by Anatole Fistoulari, who made rather a name ofr himself as a Khachaturian specialist in the era (the Fifties) when that might have mattered. The notes are very unclear about dates, but since the Piano Concerto, with the estimable Moura Lympany as soloist, is in boxy mono, it must be the one from 1952. The Violin concerto, attacked with verve by Ruggiero Ricci, is in much better, wider-raning sound, so it must be the one from 1956, and it may be in stereo. In any event, the LPO could certainly have found live concert material more illuminating than this Soviet folderol.
On the used market the price for this compilation is super budget, even discounting the fourth CD, and anyone interested in historical recordings can be assured of good sound and intriguing performances."