Thomas Beecham

Beecham in Concert: Mozart, Alwyn & Grieg

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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell

Thomas Beecham had many rather unique, defining characteristics throughout his career. Not the least of which was to create a new ensemble or festival when he felt one did not exist to meet his needs, or when previously founded orchestras simply grew tired of his dictatorial status. Most notably, Beecham was responsible for the creation of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, heard here on Volume 23 of the Beecham Collection. Although the program is somewhat haphazard, this disc still has a lot to offer listeners. It opens with a 1955 performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 29, a piece Beecham returned to many times during the last decade of his life. By today's standards, this performance may seem a bit heavy -- Beecham does use the complete forces of the RPO, but Beecham really takes his time even on the fast movements, paying close attention to detail. The highlight of the album, however, finds Beecham at the helm of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the live, premiere performance of Symphony No. 3 by little-remembered composer William Alwyn. The piece, which cannot help but bring "Mars" from Holst's The Planets to mind, is a very militaristic, intense composition that Beecham and the BBC deliver with brilliant accuracy and fervor.

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