BEETHOVEN: The Creatures
of Prometheus, Op. 43
In 1947 after highly successful appearances as guest conductor, Eduard van Beinum was appointed conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He had been conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw for about a decade, and continued in that capacity as well. Decca had just started recording Beinum with the Dutch orchestra and made a fine series with him and the LPO as well including violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Lalo (with Campoli) and Sibelius (with Jan Damen), Symphony No. 3 of Brahms, a superb Elgar collection (Wand of Youth Suites, Cockaigne Overture) , Borodin's Polovtsian Dances (rather odd repertory for Beinum), and many others. Few of these have been issued on CD.
Sound Dynamics Associates is attempting to fill at least part of the void with this excellent transfer of music from Beethoven's only ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43. This was done from a pristine copy of the original LP (London LL 466) which has been masterfully transferred -- not a trace of LP surface disturbance. The performance is magnificent, typical of the Dutch conductor: direct, pointed, dynamic and beautifully played. This is important as it is one of the few recordings Beinum made of Beethoven. In 1946 he recorded Leonore Overture No. 2 with the Concertgebouw for Decca and for the same label, in 1949, the Egmont overture. For Decca, in addition to Prometheus, he recorded four overtures with the LPO: Consecration of the House, Egmont, Fidelio, Coriolan and Leonore No. 3. With the Concertgebouw for Philips Beinum recorded Symphony No. 2, the Violin Concerto with Arthur Grumiaux and Piano Concertos 1 and 4 with Robert Casadesus. The Symphony and Violin Concerto have been issued on imported CDs, the latter only in mono. There is a magnificent video (DVD) of a live Eroica from a telecast May 5, 1957, included in the essential Q DISC compilation of Beinum live performances (see review).
Don't expect too much in the way of production on this Prometheus CD. There are no program notes, only a listing of the nine sections. Total playing time is less than forty minutes; it's unfortunate that the four Beethoven overtures weren't included -- perhaps pristine copies were not available. Collectors are fortunate that some of these neglected treasures from the past are emerging in terrific transfers. The cost is modest: $10.00 including US shipping/handling. It can be ordered from Sound Dynamics Associates, P. O. Box 608, Dennis, MA.02638. You can write to them: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website: www.sd-associates.com.