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CD Review

Jean Sibelius

Somm-Beecham 18

Unissued Recordings 1951/4

  • Symphony #4 in A minor, Op. 63
  • Symphony #6 in D minor, Op. 104
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
Somm-Beecham 18 ADD 61m (Rec 1951/54)
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Somm in collaboration with the Beecham Trust is doing the musical world proud with a number of invaluable issues of long lost recordings by the great conductor. Fresh from reading his excellent biography by John Lucas, Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music, I appreciated these Sibelius interpretations further although I have at least two other recordings of the same works in my library by the same conductor.

Beecham's Sixth was always a special occasion and few can argue with the shining and mezmerising beauty which he brings to the opening Allegro molto moderato as well as the lovely Allegro molto which concludes the work in splendidly vivacious fashion. The recording is a bit variable especially in the quieter moments but Sir Thomas' musicality shines through in every bar.

The Fourth Symphony was also what could be termed a Beecham specialty and this recording is no better demonstration of his powers in the Finnish master's music. Compared to his legendary EMI studio recording, this interpretation is perhaps slightly more relaxed but is no less intense especially in the Poco vivace.

Graham Melville Mason provides suitably apposite notes to the disc which is definitely another essential addition to the Beecham discography. One hopes that the steady stream of issues coming from this source will continue apace.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech

Trumpet