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Haydn: London Symphonies; The Seasons / Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal PO [6 CDs]

Notes & Reviews:

From the outset of his career, Sir Thomas Beecham gained a reputation for his groundbreaking interpretations of the symphonies of Joseph Haydn. This collection brings together Symphonies 93 - 104 - among them, the 'Surprise' and the 'Miracle' - as well as the uplifting oratorio The Seasons, all of which became fundamental to Beecham's repertoire. The textural clarity and rhythmic vitality that Beecham achieves create brilliant performances of sheer elegance and grandeur, which constantly seek to convey the true spirit of the esteemed composer.

Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) was born in the north-west of England, the son of a successful manufacturing chemist. After a spell at Wadham College, Oxford, he studied privately with Charles Wood in London and Moritz Moszkowski in Paris with the express intention of becoming a composer. By his early twenties he was conducting professionally and in 1906 was appointed conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra. Three years later, backed by his father, he founded the first of several orchestras, the Beecham Symphony. From 1910 to 1915, the family's money also enabled him to mount impressive seasons of opera and ballet, including the British premieres of Russian operas and many by Richard Strauss, and the first visits to London by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. In 1915 he created the Beecham Opera Company, which performed in London and around the country. After the Second World War, Beecham founded another superb orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic (in 1946), over which he could exercise full control. Visits to foreign orchestras (particularly in America), a profuse recording schedule and regular appearances in the opera house, kept Beecham active to the end of his long life.

  • 6CD set includes Haydn's 12 London Symphonies and 'The Seasons' oratorio
  • Sir Thomas Beecham founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946
  • Beecham's conducting style was noted for its elegance and rhythmic vitality and textual clarity

MusicWeb International, 16th October 2013
Although the present performances may appear quite dated to some, Beecham's exquisite grace, elegance and charm shines through. I love way he negotiates a phrase and adds that extra dash of panache and Tlan to the proceedings...In Symphony no. 101, no-one can portray the quirky, jaunty character of the Clock second movement like Sir Thomas.


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