"THE BEECHAM COLLECTION"

Royal Philharmonic Orch/Sir Thomas Beecham, cond.
VOLUME 2:  GOLDMARK:  Rustic Wedding Symphony, Op. 26. DVORAK:  Symphonic Variations, Op. 78
IDLR 104 (B) (ADD) TT: 62:33

VOLUME 3:  BERLIOZ:  Te Deum, Op. 22.  Les Frances-Juges Overture, Op. 3.  Waverly Overture, Op. 1
(with tenor Alexander Young; Dulwich College Boys Choir and the London Philharmonic Choir)
IDLR 106 (B) (ADD) TT: 72:38

VOLUME 5:  WAGNER:  The Flying Dutchman Overture.  Prelude to Act III, Dance of the Apprentices and Procession of the Meistersingers from Die Meistersinger.  Siegfried's Rhine Journey and Funeral Music from G–tterd”mmerung.  Good Friday Music from Parsifal.
IDLR 110 (B) (ADD) TT: 51:47

In the late '80's the Sir Thomas Beecham Trust issued several CDs in a series called Beecham Collection. This included Beecham's superb 1954 complete recording of Schumann Manfred.  That project, unfortunately, never got very far although one could hardly say the British conductor has been neglected on CD—EMI and other labels have issued dozens of his older recordings—but there still were major gaps in Beecham's discography. Now we have a new "Beecham Collection," this one produced by John Wilson who has a keen appreciation for the artistry of Sir Thomas and, frustrated that many of the conductor's important recordings have not appeared on CD decided to do the job himself.  is enterprise is ambitious with an auspicious beginning.  isted above are three of his releases, the only ones I've heard—for more information on others—and how to get these—write to idlewildreissues@earthlink.net. You'll find other rare Beecham recordings of Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn as well as Bruno Walter conducting Beethoven and Brahms. These are budget-priced CDs—$6.50—including shipping. As you can see from pictures above, packaging is minimal with the same cover for each except for volume and composer ID. There are no CD notes, but there is a complete listing of contents with timings, source information, recording dates and locations. Transfers are up to today's highest standards.

I once owned—and treasured—the original Columbia LPs that have here been so expertly transferred to silver disk. These particular CDs hold some of my favorite Beecham recordings.  Goldmark's "Rustic Wedding" is called a symphonic poem but it really is a symphony with five movements.  It is overly long (about 41 minutes) but doesn't seem so in Beecham's charming performance, recorded in May 1952 in Abbey Road Studios, easily the finest ever recorded. To fill out the CD, Wilson has added Dvorak's Symphonic Variations, Op. 78, recorded in Walthamstow Town Hall in London in Dec.1953 (the original coupling on Columbia ML  4974 was Balakirev's Tamara). 

Volume 3 is devoted to Berlioz, a specialty of Beecham.  Here is his 1953 recording of Te Deum made in Hornesey Parish Church in London December 3, 1953. To fill out the CD we have two of the lesser-known overtures as listed above; let us hope  others on the original LP (Roman Carnival, King Lear and Corsaire) will appear on another IDLR CD.

Beecham was recognized as one of the finest Wagner conductors of his time. A sample of his expertise in this repertory is Volume 5 with excerpts from The Flying Dutchman, Die Meistersinger, G–tterd”mmerung and Parsifal all recorded in Walthamstow Hall from 1953-54. 

These are important CDs for the collector—and at a bargain price. I look forward to future releases—perhaps Beecham's RPO Sibelius Symphony No. 1?

R.E.B. (December 2002)