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Rare Sibelius:

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham

CD Review

These magnificent recordings have been lost for over fifty years due to the fact that they were issued for a short time in the US but were never available in the UK and European market. Beecham’s authoritative way with Sibelius was a well-known factor and even today, most of his recordings dedicated to this composer are still regarded as hors conceurs. This Second is recorded in extremely inferior sound as Decca were already issuing high quality ’ffrr’ recordings and this was probably one of the reasons why they disappeared from the catalogue so quickly.

However, Beecham’s unique flair runs through this highly personalized account and it is to my mind one of the finest versions of this symphony ever recorded. The tempo is measured, there is a steady pace to the proceedings and the music retains a natural ebb and flow that is essential to the structural flow, a vital Sibelius quality. I warmed to the spacious Finale which really has a particular grandeur about it; in ways it is rather similar to Karajan’s stately Philharmonia conception (1960) but worlds away from Collins’ high speed account (1953).

Beecham’s Sixth is quintessentially ethereal with an Allegro molto that really catches the spirit of the music. Lyndon Jenkins’ highly readable notes are laudable and Michael Dutton’s remastering makes the best out of the dull recordings. The project also plugs an important gap in the Beecham-Sibelius discography.

Copyright © Gerald Fenech, March 13th 1999


Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major
Sibelius: Symphony No. 6 in D minor

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham

Dutton Laboratories (recorded 1946/47)

ADD                            Playing time: 70m


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