Perhaps the most intriguing facet of this disc in Somm’s
“Beecham Collection” series is the artists it includes. As well
as Sir Thomas Beecham as conductor with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, we
are treated to Dennis Brain as principal horn in Wagner’s
Overture which opens the disc. Delius’s following In
A Summer Garden
features Gwydion Brooke - the son of composer Joseph
Holbrooke - as the principal bassoon.
The disc as a whole is well-presented, with interesting anecdotes in
the booklet notes by Graham Melville-Mason, which enliven the context.
and In A Summer Garden
sympathetic readings with the Delius being particularly evocative. In
Schubert’s Symphony No.9 there’s an admirable dynamic range and
thrust. The contrast between the Scherzo and Trio sections of the third
movement is especially notable, with a pleasing lilt in the latter
complementing the more martial feel of the former. The balance is also good,
giving the wind motifs prominence where necessary. It is all too easy for
these to be lost in the overall texture but here the strings’ sound is
not too massive, thereby allowing these musically important figures to be
This recording presents music from live performances dating from the
1950s, so the sound quality is therefore not necessarily of the highest
order. It is still reasonably good and does not detract from the extremely
high standard of music-making featured.
On the whole, these are fine performances, full of vitality and
commitment, making this a very pleasing release strong in historic interest.
Previous review: Jonathan Woolf