These recordings of the last six London symphonies were recorded in 1958-59, but even after fifty years they gleam with freshness. Just as Beethoven is unthinkable without Furtwangler, Verdi without Toscanini, and Mahler without Bernstein, Haydn is fused with the name of Beecham. He was near the end when these stereo renditions were made, and at times the music isn't as vigorous or pointed as it could be, but the symphonies remain light, buoyant, and witty. Beecham simply had the magic touch when it came to Haydn. As to sonics, they are good enough , but loud passages can shriek a bit, and the Royal Phil. is at times scrappy compared to the best orchestras of today. But their playing is never bored, routine, or slick.
At present this composer is neglected. Unlike Mozart, Haydn's poised classicism doesn't feel deep enough to modern ears; he's never tragic or even conflicted. His music is charmng, balanced, self-assured, and incredibly inventive. That should be enough, but I can think of a host of major conductors who have recorded barely a handful of Haydn symphonies (Toscanini, Walter, Furtwangler, Abbado, Fricsay, etc.) The best of the true devotees includes, besides Beecham, Bernstein, Klemperer, and Karajan, with Szell adding his fair share, about eight symphonies in toto. Bernstein's set of the Paris symphonies stands on a plane with Beechaam's London symphonies. Together, they are must-listens in this delightful music.