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CD Review

George Frideric Handel

Arranged by Beecham

  • Suite de Ballet – The Origins of Design
  • The Gods Go A'Begging
  • Piano Concerto in A Major
Lady Betty Humby Beecham, piano
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
SOMM-Beecham 7 75m Rec. 1932-45
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When it came to Handel, Beecham was tickled pink into arranging large luscious chunks out of his operas in an unashamedly romantic manner. This compilation spans various arrangements of this sort, parts of which have already appeared on Dutton (CDAX8019) but which include some previously unavailable recordings. As Graham Melville Mason tells us in his excellent notes, Beecham did much for the Handel revival by editing and publishing scores which, albeit being very much a Beechamesque affair brought the composer to the fore. 'The Origin of Design' includes some very wonderful music as does the suite from 'Gods Go a' Begging', a pastiche from various unknown operas such as 'Teseo' and 'Rodrigo' not to mention several excerpts from oboe and harpsichord concertos which the composer used to use to fill out the opera intervals.

Of particular interest is this Piano Concerto arranged for Sir Thomas' wife, lady Betty Humby Beecham. It is a straightforward arrangement of themes with the typical Beecham touch although Melville-Mason is rather dry about it. I enjoyed Lady Beecham's playing immensely not to mention the conductors fastidious conducting of the London Symphony in very fine form. Those who like Handel in 'big-band' fashion will certainly warm to these inimitable performances.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech