Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Beecham Goes French on EMI Mono

EMI HMV ALP 1843


French Romantic Music

Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor
French National Radio Orchestra
  
Pressing:  1st semi-circle red
Condition:  NM

Stampers:

2XLA 71-1N
2XLA 72-1N


Performance:  8/10

Sound:  6/10

Comments:  Sir Thomas Beecham knew how to conduct French music, and he has a number of mono and stereo EMI recordings with French orchestras as testimony.  Some of his well known stereo EMI ASDs include: 


ASD 252:  Bizet L'Arlesienne Suites
ASD 399:  Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
ASD 458:  Franck Symphony in D minor

Most if not all of these have all been reissued on CD in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century, and in fact, you can now buy a budget boxed set of Beecham's French music recordings.  In my honest opinion, I believe that some of the CD transfers sound better than their analog counterparts.  One observation I've made about some of Beecham's stereo recordings (for me, specifically, ASD 252 and ASD 458) is that dynamic range suffers from distortion and lack of clarity at the high end.  I don't know if this is strictly a pressing issue, but from my conversations with some dealers, this may be an issue with the recording in general and not the pressing.  I have not heard this problem on the digital transfers.


This album I'm posting today, in spite of being a mono recording, is actually quite enjoyable.  Most of these mono LPs can be acquired for not too much money either on Ebay or from the UK classical record dealer circuit.  Mine I found relatively recently on Ebay, and I paid no more than $15 for a near mint copy of it.  I listened to it again tonight and was charmed.  There is a wide variety of French music, from Bizet's Carmen Suite #1 to Faure's Dolly Suite to Chabrier's Gwendolyn Overture.  It goes from lovely to dramatic and is played with the flair of the French National Radio Orchestra.  You can hear the special sound of the brass which were apparently characteristic of French orchestras of the time but have been lost over time.  While I generally prefer to hear these orchestral recordings in stereo, I actually didn't mind the mono that much today (perhaps because I was listening while cleaning the room) and would put it on the turntable again.  The problem with dynamic range that I've experienced with Beecham's stereo recordings was absent, which was a plus.  Clarity wasn't the best but was appreciable.  If you want to sample this album, you can also find it reissued and remastered on CD:


http://www.allmusic.com/album/french-orchestral-music-mw0001855910

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