Five of the best recordings by Sir Thomas Beecham

Which are the must-hear discs by this legendary British conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham?

Sir Thomas Beecham
Published: April 25, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Borodin Polovtsian Dances
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheharazade
Beecham Choral Society; RPO/Beecham
Warner 566 9832

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Thomas Beecham conducted the Ballets Russes's stagings of these two Russian scores, and his zest for these 'exotic' works is infectious.

• A guide to Delius

• A guide to Mozart

Delius Appalachia; Hassan etc
Jan van der Gucht (tenor); LPO/Beecham
Naxos 8.110906

Appalachia captured Beecham's imagination and devotion to Delius's music. The sinew and exuberance of this performance transcends the late-1930s sound.

Mozart The Magic Flute
Ema Berger, Gerhard Hüsch, Tiana Lemnitz, Helge Rosvaenge; Berlin Philharmonic/Beecham
Naxos 8.11027-28

Most of Beecham's Mozart recordings are unavailable, but this charming 1937-38 Berlin recording of The Magic Flute shows his affection for the composer.

Strauss Elektra (final scene); Ariadne auf Naxos (final Scene)
Erna Schlüter, Paul Schöffler, Ljuba Welitsch, Walter Widdop; RPO/Beecham
Naxos 8.11372

Recorded in 1947 after his broadcast performance of Elektra before the composer, this dramatic account affirms Beecham's Strauss credentials.

• The best recordings of Vaughan Williams's Sea Symphony

• The best recordings of Fanny Mendelssohn's String Quartet

Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts
Richard Lewis (tenor); RPO and Chorus/Beecham
BBC Legends BBCL 40112

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This extraordinary live performance, with flawless orchestral playing and choral singing, was recorded not long after Beecham's 80th birthday.

Authors

Rebecca Franks
Rebecca FranksJournalist, Critic and former Managing Editor of BBC Music Magazine

Rebecca Franks is the former Managing Editor of BBC Music Magazine and a regular classical music critic for The Times. She is currently writing her first children's book.

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