COPLAND: Quiet City. Symphony No. 3. Appalachian Spring Suite.
Boston Symphony Orch/Serge Koussevitzsky, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 458 TT: 73:09
BUY NOW FROM PRISTINE CLASSICAL

RUCH: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26. ELGAR: Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61.
Yehudi Menuhin, violin. London Symphony Orch/Sir Landon Ronald, cond. (Bruch). Sir Edward Elgar , cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 459 TT: 72:36
BUY NOW FROM PRISTINE CLASSICAL

HANDEL: Messiah (1927 recording)
Dora Labbette, soprano. Muriel Brunskill, contralto. Hubert Eisdell, tenor. Harold Williams, bass. BBC Choir and Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 129 (2 disks) TT: 2 hours 4:04
BUY NOW FROM PRISTINE CLASSICAL

NICOLAI: The MerryWives of Windsor Overture. ELGAR: Seremade for Strings. HANDEL-BEECHAM: The Great Elopement (excerpts). DELIUS: The Walk to the Paradise Garden. J, STRAUSS: Voices of Spring.
Blue Network Symphony Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 461 TT: 54:43
BUY NOW FROM PRISTINE CLASSICAL

This Colada disk is a treasure. Serge Koussevitzsky led the Boston S9ymphony 1924-1949 and during his tenure always presented contemporary music, particularly by American composers. He conducted numerous world premieres of many work, and commissioned Ravel's transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition. The Russian conductor particularly admired Copland an commissioned the Symphony No. 3, heard on this recording in a concert performance November 16, 1946 in Carnegie Hall, the fourth performance of this symphony, now a staple of the repertory. This is the original version of the symphony; Copland later made some revisions. Quiet City is a performance in Boston's Symphony Hall March 10, 1945. The suite from Appalachian Spring is from a concert April 13, 1944 in Hunter College. These transfers by Andrew Rose are impressive indeed, with a full, natural sound. The famed Russian conductor made numerous recordings during his long career and it is unfortunate that so few of them are currently in the catalog. This fine Pristine issue helps fill the void.

Yehudi Menuhin (19916 - 19999) was a whirlwind on the musical scene, amazing audiences that a very young artist could play so brilliantly and sensitively. He made his orchestral debut in 1929 playing the Beethoven and Brahms concertos with Bruno Walter on the podium. In 1931, Menuhin made his first orchestral recording, the Bruch Concerto No. 1, with Sir Landon Ronald and the London Symphony. The following year, he recorded Elgar's Violin Concerto with the same orchestra directed by the composer. Both of these historic recordings are included on Pristine's new CD, sounding better than ever in these new transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. Important issues, indeed!

It always is a pleasure to hear older recordings of Sir Thomas Beecham. Pristine here has issued two of them, the first the conductor's first recording of Messiah made in 1927 in early days of electric recording. Beecham made a few cuts and revisions, always conducting with vigor. Not a dull moment here! There were manifold problems with the transfer made from a number of sources, all explained in detail in program notes by Mark Obert-Thorn. And how far removed this performance is from Beecham's 1959 stereo recording of the Goossen's full-bodied and imaginative version (which I love). For those who love Handel's masterpiece, this twin-disk set is essential.

The other disk is an example of Beecham's skill inspiring musicians to do their best under varied circumstances. I recall in 1957 when he guest conducted the Baltimore Symphony (Berlioz March from The Trojans, Dvorak Golden Spinning Wheel, Haydn Symphony 97 and Sibelius Symphony No. 6). In a few rehearsals filled with spirited comments he had the BSO playing at the highest performance level; a delightful, rewarding concert. Sir Thomas recreates the same magic in this first volume (there will be three more) of ABC Blue Network Concerts broadcast April 7, 1945. It is d said that some of the players were from the New York Philharmonic or the NBC Symphony; at any rate, all are first-class artists who give the conductor what he wanted. The program is typical Beecham: Nicolai, Handel, Delius, ending with a rousing rendition of the Strauss waltz. Milton Cross's commentaries are included. A charming glimpse into early classical radio broadcasting!

R.E.B. (February 2016)