With a career spanning more than five decades, Thomas Beecham was one of the most important and influential conductors in England during the first half of the 20th century. He had a tendency, when dissatisfied with the musical scene in a given locale, to just form a new orchestra. As such, Beecham was responsible for the founding of both the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Beecham also had a penchant for unearthing little-known compositions, or performing less common versions of works. This EMI reissue features one of his favorite works, Grieg's incidental music to Peer Gynt. Most listeners are no doubt familiar with one or both of the orchestra suites Grieg extracted from the 23 total numbers, but Beecham presents listeners with much more. In addition to the 10 selections from the two suites, Beecham includes two additional movements and includes the little-heard choral parts from "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and "Arabian Dance" as well as the solo soprano parts from "Solveig's Song" and "Solveig's Lullaby." Leading his own Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Beecham's interpretation is vibrant and detailed; he demands and receives the utmost precision and nuance from his orchestra throughout Peer Gynt. The same level of excitement and commitment is given to the remainder of the program, more of Beecham's favored but little-known works from the Norwegian master. With so many positive attributes, it is little wonder why this recording has been reissued so frequently.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Peer Gynt, incidental music|
|Symphonic Dance, Op. 64|