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Grieg: Peer Gynt - Beecham

Grieg: Peer Gynt - Beecham

Tower Records Definition Serie  TDSA-206

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Grieg: Peer Gynt excerpts*, Symphonic Dances, Autumn, Old Norwegian Melody with Variations

Ilse Hollweg* (soprano)
Beecham Choral Society*
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor)

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Comments (1)

Comment by Athenaeus - December 14, 2021 (1 of 1)

This disc collects Beecham's stereo recordings of Grieg. It contains the same works as the old EMI Masters CD (now Warner Masters, of course). I didn't know these recordings before; I discovered them thanks to this Tower Records release. I therefore can't say anything about the sound quality of this disc versus that of any previous incarnations. Perhaps someone else can.

In any case, this is another delightful disc from Tower Records. Beecham really breathes life into the pieces. The faster movements are played with remarkable zest; the slower ones with beautiful lyricism. And most of all, the instruments have got personality. I don't think I've ever heard such a characterful bassoon. My go-to Grieg is Neeme Järvi's set of the complete orchestral works with the Gothenburg Symphony. It's an excellent set but I found Beecham's Grieg to be simply more fun. By the way, you can sample most of Beecham's recordings on Youtube. Even though the sonics won't be great, that way you'll know what to expect before purchasing this SACD.

Some of the pieces have words. Interestingly, they aren't sung in Norwegian, but instead in German. It seems the choir and the soprano didn't feel up to singing in Norwegian.

These recordings were done in 1955, '56 and '59. The recordings from 1955 are some of the earliest ones EMI did in stereo. Although the technology was still in its infancy, these early recordings sound pretty good. Even in the loud tuttis, the sound hardly breaks down. A year later, in 1956, the sound is already improving. You can tell the technology was evolving quickly or that the engineers were quickly learning how to use it. I also find this disc interesting as a document in the history of recording.