Beecham, Thomas

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsReviews
Soprano: Elsie Morison
Alto: Monica Sinclair
Tenor: Alexander Young
Bass: Marian Nowakowski

Choir: BBC Chorus
Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Sir Thomas Beecham

Date: December 13-14 , 1954 and May 29, 1956
Venue: Walthamstow Town Hall and EMI Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London, UK

Label: Sony Classical
Cat No.: SMK89808
Released: 2001
Much less pleasing is Beecham’s 1956 Requiem, dimly recorded and filled with the kind of textural anomalies you wouldn’t happily countenance these days. Where, for example, are the bassett-horns in the Introitus? Answer: their parts are played by conventional bassoons, who can’t attain the solemnity of timbre Mozart intended. Also, Beecham uses all three trombones in the Tuba Mirum obbligato, where the effect can seem more comic than apocalyptic. And the performance itself is a grindingly tedious one, with exceptionally labored tempos (the Kyrie and Dies Irae are the worst) made still less attractive by poor choral diction and ensemble, and by a team of soloists who rarely rate above average. Unless you’re a Beecham devotee who simply wants this recording for completeness’ sake, you’d do infinitely better with Peter Schreier’s Philips version from Dresden, a snip at the price, powerfully and movingly sung, and magnificently recorded.
Michael Jameson, Classics Today