Beecham's supreme musicality exemplified in Haydn's symphonic masterworks
First six 'London' symphonies in superb new 32-bit XR-remastered transfers
These recordings were all made, with the exception of Symphony No. 97, at the Salle Wagram in Paris over a period of four days in October 1957, alas in mono - the second volume was recorded the following year in stereo. These transcriptions of the 1970s LP issue have done away with EMI's electronic stereo and (where ordered) have the far more subtle Ambient Stereo effect applied.
The symphonies were surprisingly varied both in tone and pitch; I've endeavoured to eliminate these variations as much as possible, bringing a new cohesion to the recordings. As the originalss varied in pitch between A4 = 444 and 449Hz I've used Beecham's average of 446.15Hz across the board. In a number of cases an individual movement or section was out of tune with the rest of the symphony, and this too has been rectified. Various tonal irregularities have also been ironed out - an unnatural high frequency "harshness" found in some recordings has been overcome, for example.
- HAYDN Symphony No. 93 in D major
- HAYDN Symphony No. 94 in G major, The "Surprise"
- HAYDN Symphony No. 95 in C minor
- HAYDN Symphony No. 96 in D major, The "Miracle"
- HAYDN Symphony No. 97 in C major
HAYDN Symphony No. 98 in B flat major
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham conductor
Recorded at Salle Wagram, Paris
Except Symphony No. 97, recorded at EMI, Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London
9 March 1957 (Symphony No. 97)
4 October 1957 (Symphonies Nos. 93, 94)
5 October 1957 (Symphonies Nos. 95, 96)
7 October 1957 (Symphony No. 98)
Transfers from EMI box set SLS 846 (BOX 84601-84603 )
XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, January-February 2012
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Sir Thomas Beecham
Total duration: 2hr 16:12
"...Not merely are they rarely heard: until very recently they were never heard correctly. The modern editions are almost without exception appallingly faulty, omitting Haydn's phrasing and dynamics and ornaments and tempi, or else flatly contradicting them; and in quite a number of cases even the notes are wrong. The Herculean labours of an American scholar, Mr. H. C. Robbins Landon, have clarified the situation a good deal. In his book, The Symphonies of Joseph Haydn (Universal Edition and Rockliff) he includes a list of errata for the Eulenburg miniature scores of the twelve "Salomon" symphonies; although inaccurate, these are the most nearly reliable current editions.
I mention this difficulty about the texts of the symphonies simply in order to make clear what it is that Sir Thomas Beecham has in fact done. He plays all these symphonies in uncorrected versions which differ in varying degrees from what Haydn wrote. In several cases his sheer musicianship has enabled him to supply nuances of phrasing or dynamics which Haydn did ask for but which have dropped out of all modern editions; in others he has introduced variants of his own which Haydn would surely have approved. But elsewhere the text has become too corrupt to be restored simply by intuition, however musical, and it is these points that make one regret the gulf that separates musicologists from practising musicians, particularly of the older generation. Against this we have to set Sir Thomas's other qualities, which compel forgiveness. There's just a touch of the chocolate-box in his interpretations of eighteenth-century music, of course, but only in some of the slow movements does this really matter. Elsewhere his acute ear for details of phrasing, rhythm and instrumental balance carry us wholeheartedly with him. This set is Haydn's triumph in the first place, but one can only be grateful that Beecham should lavish his immense gifts on music which far too many conductors neglect..."
J.N. The Gramophone, December 1958 (Reviewing ALP1624-6, original LP issues, excerpt)
This is the issue to get ... we get a truer picture of the Royal Philharmonic and of Beecham’s Haydn
James H. North