BBC Legends – Beecham’s Edinburgh Brahms 2

0 of 5 stars

Symphony No.2 in D, Op.36
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.73

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham

Recorded 1956 – 20 August, Usher Hall, Edinburgh (Brahms) and 23 December, BBC Studios, Maida Vale, London

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: September 2002
BBCL 4099-2
Duration: 70 minutes

I am not sure that you would call me a ’Beecham man’; certainly I do not worship the ground he walked on. I pick and choose and there are undoubtedly some great things that he left us. The Brahms on this release is one of them – a glorious performance from the Edinburgh Festival.

In terms of tempos, instrumental blend, subtlety of dynamics and what might be termed lyric buoyancy, this is an unimpeachable performance. It’s one to relish, not in any sycophantic or excessive sense, for Beecham has the length and breadth of the music, its contours and climaxes, its passions and reflections, and the RPO is in wonderful form – from the opening horns to the sheen of the strings via the supreme woodwind playing. The mono sound is excellent and faithfully transferred, and all that needs to be said is that this is a magnificent Brahms Two caught on the wing. The sprint to the finishing post and the long-held final chord could be heard as showmanship, but it works here as a spontaneous increase of adrenaline.

The Beethoven enjoys Beecham’s gracefulness. While there is more to the music, or more that can be found, this elegant, high-spirited and attentive account gives pleasure – especially the flowing ’Larghetto’ – and is more than a makeweight for the very special Brahms.

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