Sir Thomas Beecham

BBC Legends: BBCL40992

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Sir Thomas Beecham

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Sir Thomas Beecham


Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36


Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73

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Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73

I. Allegro non troppo

II. Adagio non troppo - L'istesso tempo, ma grazioso

III. Allegretto grazioso (quasi andantino) - Presto ma non assai

IV. Allegro con spirito

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36

I. Adagio molto - Allegro molto

II. Larghetto

III. Scherzo

IV. Allegro molto

Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“Beecham was no Brahmsian but he loved the Second Symphony and was one of its most persuasive interpreters. In 1936 he made a muchadmired recording with the newly founded LPO. Reviewing Beecham's stereo remake in The Gramophone in June 1960, William Mann recalled: 'I grew up with his 78 set and remember it with keen pleasure. It was light and sunny and full of charm, though perfectly strong; some people probably thought it a reading that lacked nobility.' The remake, recorded in 1958-9, wasn't as well liked as the 78rpm original. This live 1956 Edinburgh Festival performance is superior in almost every respect to that laboriously assembled studio version, and left the festival audience flabbergasted, walking on air.
In the studio the rip-roaring conclusion seemed contrived, but here it electrifies sense. If there's a whiff of the circus about the Edinburgh performance – Beecham audibly urging his players on like a shiny-hatted ringmaster, the final chord sounding defiantly on even as it drowns in a sea of applause – it's largely to do with the fact that the performance is live. The actual reading is exemplary: a thrilling denouement thrillingly realised.
And in the earlier movements Beecham's reading is everything William Mann remembered it as – sunny and full of charm but also, by 1956, wise and wondering, too. The mono sound is first-rate.
The Beethoven is less interesting, though this Maida Vale broadcast is every bit as vital as the generally well-respected EMI studio recording which Beecham and the RPO made that same winter. Buy it for the Brahms.”

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