What the Critics Say
The following are reviews by Brian Wilson at Music Web International
"Beecham’s way with Schubert was as magic as anything that he did, even though – or because – he tinkered with the score in several places.
"The 1953 sound is inevitably thin and not without a trace of distortion but I’m willing to compromise in this case for the sake of the wonderful performances, first released in the UK by Philips in 1955 (ABL3001). Though Sony reissued the performances from the master tape in 2003, the result reportedly made the orchestra sound over-large by comparison with these LP transfers. "
Reissue of the Month
"If you had asked me to nominate classic recordings of the Ravel and
Honegger, these would have been among the front-runners alongside
Pierre Monteux (Ravel, various Decca couplings) and Herbert von Karajan
(Honegger, DG Originals). Add an enjoyable account of the Porgy and
Bess Symphonic Picture by its arranger and some authoritative Delius
from Sir Thomas Beecham in a collection running over the putative
80-minute limit and this must receive a clear recommendation,
especially as the Ansermet Honegger is otherwise available only in a
3-CD set and RCA’s own transfers of the Ravel seem to come and go, more
often the latter.
"The 78 recording of the Delius requires only a very
small degree of tolerance, far less than I expected: it sounds more
like an early LP transfer – indeed, it’s greatly superior to the
Fontana and Philips LPs on which it was released. I’m surprised to see
that Trevor Harvey praised the sound on
the Philips transfer because I recall quite the opposite: I’m sure that
I would have warmed to the North Country Sketches immediately if they
had sounded as good as this. I
listened to the Naxos transfer of the same recording as streamed
in lossless sound from their own classicsonlinehd.com and marginally
preferred the Beulah transfer as having more body.
"Beecham transposed the order of the two central
Sketches, Winter Landscape and Dance, presumably to suit the exigencies
of 78 sides: both Naxos and Beulah have reset them in the correct
"There’s no connecting theme other than very fine performances of twentieth-century music – and the fact that two of the composers died in 1937, by pure coincidence – but I’m certainly not complaining. "
Reissue of the Month (April 2016) "Rimsky’s Antar is made from the same kind of material as Scheherazade: lovely tunes but without the structure which keeps the Arabian Nights-inspired work more or less in order. It’s certainly no symphony, though the composer worked on it several times. Ansermet uses the 1897 revision for this version, generally regarded as the first European stereo recording in May 1954 – and very good stereo, indeed, for its time in this transfer. Beulah score, too, by offering it on a single release – and a very generously-timed release, too.
"The Rachmaninov recording, though later, doesn’t stand up quite so well at top volume but it’s another fine transfer of another very fine, passionate performance
"The Glazunov first appeared on HMV CLP1140, with Lecocq’s Mam’zelle Angot. The music is compiled mainly from The Seasons, a very fine recording of which with Robert Irving conducting the Concert Arts Orchestra used to exist on EMI: unfortunately ousted by their later Svetlanov recording. I don’t believe Birthday Offering is otherwise available apart from a short 8-minute section on an inexpensive 100 Best Ballet collection. It’s well played, recorded and transferred."