Chabrier, Mozart, Delius, Debussy, Saint-Sa‘ns, Berlioz & Massenet

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Berlioz & Massenet,Chabrier,Debussy,Delius,Mozart,Saint-Sa‘ns
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Thomas Beecham
WORKS: Works by Chabrier, Mozart, Delius, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz & Massenet
PERFORMER: RPO/Thomas Beecham
Only if one is averse to merely decent mono sound is this disc of mostly Gallic bon-bons anything less than delightful. Thomas Beecham’s leadership undoubtedly involved a significant level of craft, but the impression left by these performances (and two wittily delivered spoken introductions) is how much he seemed to relish the music he conducted. He shows particularly obvious affection for Mozart’s Divertimento, K131, in the lovingly expansive inflections in its Adagio and the grandeur and pomp he brings to the rich horn-writing in the slow introduction to the last movement. In Chabrier’s Gwendoline Overture, Beecham’s dramatic verve and lyrical impulse are inimitable – even John Eliot Gardiner’s hugely enjoyable account sounds forcedly bracing by comparison. This suave, eye-twinkling account of Saint-Saëns’s Le rouet d’Omphale, the more serious intensity applied to Berlioz’s Royal Hunt and Storm and Delius’s Brigg Fair and the beatific tranquillity unveiled in Massenet’s Le dernier sommeil de la vierge show multiple facets of Beecham’s keen enjoyment of music and its ability to stir the spirits. The Royal Philharmonic shines throughout – some ragged chords in the ‘Cortège et air de danse’ from Debussy’s L’enfant prodigue offer the only disconcerting moment. David Breckbill