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Symphony No.2; Symphony No.8


Price: CDN$ 46.95
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3 used from CDN$ 11.99

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Product Details


1. I. Allegretto
2. II. Tempo Andante, Ma Rubato
3. III. Vivacissimo - Attacca:
4. IV. Finale. Allegro Moderato
5. I. Allegro Con Brio
6. II. Adagio
7. III. Allegretto Grazioso - Molto Vivace
8. IV. Allegro Ma Non Troppo

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Beecham's Sibelius 2 / Dvorak 8 June 19 2010
By 410 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
[5 star performance, 2-3 star audio]
Beecham was one of the great early conductors of Sibelius. He led muscular, propulsive performances that realized the grandeur of the score without veering into over romanticized sentiment most frequently heard in the final movement of the 2nd Symphony. The final lyrical theme, which sometimes seems to carry on too many times in the hands of lesser conductors, exudes a riveting development in Beecham's hands, briskly paced and packing a wallop.

The outer movements of the Dvorak 8th are dynamic with impeccable taste for rubato, avoiding the leaden sense of rhythm some performances veer towards. The inner movements offer organic lyricism, with a more elastic pulse than more familiar takes on this work that more tightly associate it with Slavonic dance music.

Beecham, the person, was quite a character and I'd recommend reading some of the colorful anecdotes and rivalries he had with some of his peers.

Sadly these live, mono recordings still sound a bit boxy in their dynamics (1954 and 1959) despite the advertised 20 bit remastering... only so much can be done with limited source material (however these recordings were made, they were no where near the engineering standards of RCA Living Stereo or Mercury Living Presence contemporaries). During the quiet sections there are some audible flu season symptoms in the audience, but these don't detract so much. Some might also prefer to do without some of conductor's cheering on of the orchestra at crucial builds, but when taking these in toto with the mythic Beecham, they add charm.

These are great performances, but the audio limitation doesn't merit the premium-level price tag. Midprice would merit a wholehearted recommendation.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
sensational Sibelius, worthwhile Dvorak Jan. 8 2010
By Ivor E. Zetler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This coulpling, previously available on the EMI label, documents an amazing and famous live performance of the Second Sibelius Symphony dating from 1954. Beecham, a renowned Sibelius conductor, extracts white hot and exciting playing from the BBC orchestra. As the work progresses he is clearly heard to be encouraging and exorting his players; much like a jockey whipping a racehorse towards the end of a race. It is the finest performance of this work that I have encountered. The prospective purchaser needs to be aware that the recorded sound is on the poor side and a good deal of coughing is heard. If you can tolerate the imperfections, you will be in for a treat of the first order.

The Dvorak 8 is somewhat of an anticlimax; a good rather than a memorable interpretation. But the CD is worth acquiring for the Sibelius.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Beecham in top flight with boisterous, ebullient Sibelius and Dvorak Oct. 4 2012
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These live mono recordings from the BBC Legends series suffer from hiss and a noisy audience, but the performances are riveting enough to make us forget any technical shortcomings. Sir Thomas Beecham delves into the heart of these two dissimilar masterpieces with fire. He's brisk, almost rushed at times, but his commitment is so commanding that the audience must have had a difficult time remaining seated.

The Sibelius 2nd has unlimited potential for heroism, with conductors like Karajan choosing to steep it in unabashed grandeur. Beecham certainly goes for fireworks, but unlike Karajan he doesn't do so by slowing the tempo and making each note ring with authority. Instead, he chooses a near-breakneck speed that threatens to push the BBC Symphony off the cliff. They never quite fall off, though, which is what makes it so electric. It's smoke, not mist that emerges from Finland's mountain peaks. Does he overdo it, then? Modern ears may think so, but I can't imagine walking away from this performance without being moved. For all his passion, Beecham is always down-to-earth, and amid his frenzies, we notice smiles. If you don't mind eccentric characters and dated sound, you'll be floored.

When we move to the Dvorak 8th, Beecham is still inspired, maintaining the same unique character that is at once fiery and sunny. The music is allowed to push and pull, with Beecham making no effort to morph into a classicist. I don't mind, loving his unabashed lack of sophistication. He moves along with determination but there's no dogmatism. Warm, romantic sounds pour from Beecham's own Royal Philharmonic. A previous reviewer stated that this reading is as "un-Czech" as you could want it. I agree overall, but Beecham is folksy and fun, keeping with the Czech spirit, even though his outworking is completely out of the ordinary. What makes him "un-Czech" is his British mischievousness that takes delight in flirting with vulgarity on occasion. It's an understatement to call this an unconventional reading, but if you're like me, that's the whole attraction.

These are two great readings witnessing a great talent in full swing. Expect the unusual, but also expect the exceptional.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Beecham bursting out with total Beecham-ness April 10 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Fifties, which were the last decade of Beecham's life, were not his glory years. The public resented him for sitting out the worst of the war in America, and his Royal Philharmonic was no longer the cream of British orchestras, being seriously outplayed by the Philharmonia under Karajan, Klemperer, and Giulini. But the magic held good on many occasions, including this 1954 concert with the BBC Sym. that gives us Sir Thomas's only postwar Sibelius Second (so far as I know). He fervently championed Sibelius -- not a daring cause like his advocacy of Delius, since Sibelius was universally popular in the Twenties and Thirties.

Although professionals never quite abandoned the prejudicial notion that Beecham was an amateur of limited technique, his inspired readings are undeniably great, and here we have a performance full of passion and drive, without a single slack or unconvincing moment. The conductor's kinetic, freewheeling treatment of the second movement alone is a marvel. Execution isn't top drawer compared to Karajan's Sibelius with the Philharmonia from the same period, but that matters little. The chief drawback for listeners who don't collect historical recordings will be the dated mono sound, but it displays a big soundstage with good depth and considerable detail. The thinness of the sound, along with a stream of audience coughs, makes it hard for the more mysterious and somber aspects of the score to register; it's mostly Beecham's ebullience that you come away remembering. Yet this is a complete interpretation, not a one-note wonder. I found it riveting.

From 1959 but in no better sound comes the Dvorak Eighth. I know of very little Dvorak from Beecham - typically for him, he liked to play one of the obscure Legends - although you'd think that the music's high spirits would have attracted him. In this Eighth the first movement is brightly and smartly done. If you expect depth, Beecham is more inclined toward propulsion and excitement. Even though the recorded sound doesn't have much impact, I loved the exuberance of this movement and the conductor's unabashed affection for the big lyrical tune. The Adagio is sharply drawn and full of contrast, an unusual but very effective approach. The solos by the concertmaster and paired clarinets are vividly played, embedded in a powerful orchestral background. The Scherzo sweeps along with panache; its broad, overt emotionality is reminiscent of Tchaikovsky in Beecham's hands. The finale is bold, brisk, and amazingly jaunty, in keeping with the conductor's overall sunniness in this score. the style is about as un-Czech as you can get, which will commend it or condemn it depending on your perspective. Beecham's fans will call this a great performance.

I loved both accounts and am happy to see them released in best sound; the earlier version on EMI, however, sells for very little on the used market here at Amazon and doesn't sound significantly worse.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mono Recordings But Lively Performances March 12 2007
By E. Clinton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This cd contains mono recordings of excellent performances of the Sibelius Symphony No. 2 and the Dvorak Symphony No. 2. Both are well-played and the performances move along well. It is a shame that we can't ressurect Beecham to make a few digital recordings.


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