Adrian Boult

Boult Conducts the B.B.C. S.O.

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When Adrian Boult took over the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1931, he created what many regarded as the best British orchestra of its time. Boult stayed with the orchestra for more than two decades, and while in that time other orchestras, including Beecham's London Philharmonic, arrived on the scene, Boult's BBC was still considered among the very best British orchestras in the early '50s. As these recordings made between 1933 and 1954 demonstrate, however, even the very best English orchestra was not all that good. For all Boult and the BBC's rhythmic alertness, their intonation was often doubtful, particularly in their brass and lower strings. For all their tonal brilliance, their colors were often muddy, especially in the winds and horns. For all their energetic tempos, their ensemble was often shoddy, particularly at faster tempos. It's not that Boult and the BBC weren't giving their best -- the high spirits of their 1944 recording of Mozart's Symphony No. 32 and the moody drama of their 1933 recording of Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture are still fully convincing. It's that the best then was simply not up to the best later. For all their felicities, these recordings remain for the most part of historical interest only. Considering the vintage, Dutton's remastered sound is crisp, clean, and colorful.

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