<< -- 3 -- Bill Newman EPISODES FROM A MEMORY BANK
Much earlier, Beecham and Brooke had performed the Weber in Liverpool.
The conductor grabbed him by the arm: 'Right, get packed. I want you
down in London where I'm forming a new orchestra.' Gwyd turned
to me: 'Remind me, which came first, was it the LPO or the other one?'
Assuring him that it was the London Philharmonic, where he stayed
from 1932-6, personnel listings in Jerrold Northrop Moore's book about
the orchestra with a photo of Beecham and the players in action, suggest
that 'G Holbrooke' (he soon dropped the first three letters of his father's
surname) was No 2 bassoon to John Alexandra -- who was still there in
'47 when I first heard them. Shortly before, Beecham had deserted his
band, and despite the odd flirtation the players now called the tune. I
was to catch up with the newly-formed Royal Philharmonic Orchestra when
Sir Thomas, who had returned from the USA where he secluded himself for
'tax' reasons, made his triumphant appearance with them at the
Royal Albert Hall.
A disapproving audience greeted him in silence, whereupon he clasped
his hands together with the request 'let us pray', and laughter
and cheers broke out. Berlioz' Le Corsair Overture completely
banished all misgivings, and the programme continued with a Delius piece.
Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante K297b -- Gwydion Brooke one of the
four soloists -- was followed by a sensational performance of Tchaikovsky's
Pathétique Symphony in part 2. I can still clearly picture
Beecham, his baton in a vice-like grip, plunging his right arm down from
way over the shoulder height during the final sforzandi at the close.
Surprisingly, I got little reaction from Gwydion Brooke when describing
this, but his tenure with the RPO starting from 1947 lasted fourteen years,
to be followed after Beecham's death by eighteen years as Principal
with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Altogether, over sixty solo performances
One of his highly regarded recordings was of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto,
which for some years was coupled on a long-play record with Jack Brymer's
recording of the Clarinet Concerto. Beecham may or may not have been aware
of certain technical shennanigans going on before the recording commenced
at No 1 Studio, Abbey Road.
Copyright © 5 April 2002
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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