Beecham conducts Handel
Now that Stokowski’s colourful Bach transcriptions have been widely appreciated on disc, it is time that Beecham’s delectable Handel confections were similarly revived. As with Stokowski, I suspect that no one will ever match the maestro himself in bringing out the colour and sparkle of arrangements which boldly fly in the face of all that latter-day purists have been telling us. As Lyndon Jenkins’s admirable booklet-note says, the first of the Handel-Beecham suites,
After that Beecham’s purloinings are rather harder to identify, and his modifications include a burst of Rule Britannia on the final cadence of the Hornpipe in The Great Elopement, hilariously timed. Apparently it was a defiant gesture, reflecting the fact that Beecham devised this last of his Handel suites in New York at the height of the war. The Great Elopement, designed as a ballet on the subject of Sheridan in Bath, was later expanded from 17 movements (only 12 of which were included on this 1945 recording) to 21, which Beecham later recorded in stereo with the RPO on an LP issued in 1960 (10/60 – nla), with the title changed to Love in Bath. Interestingly, this earlier account is generally more robust and vigorous, if at times a little less elegant.
The Dutton transfers are first-rate, with The Great Elopement of 1945 reflecting the extra frequency-range made available as a result of government research during the war (also reflected in Decca’s ffrr recordings at that time). Otherwise, rather surprisingly, the earliest recordings, dating from 1933 – The Origin of Design and two movements from
As to the CD transfer I am only sorry that too many tracks contain more than one movement, when it would have been easy to index them all separately.'