Monday, September 25, 2017

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 3 (Beecham)

Early in 1949, to honor the upcoming 70th birthday of Sir Thomas Beecham, RCA Victor put on the American market some half-dozen albums of the conductor's latest HMV recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, all sporting the above generic cover created for the occasion. This was the largest of these sets:

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op. 29 ("Polish")
Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded April, 1947
RCA Victor set DM-1279, five 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 113.12 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 73.55 MB)

Of the six Tchaikovsky symphonies, the Third seems to me the most ideal vehicle for Sir Thomas' talents. This is particularly true of the three middle movements, and how fortunate are we that these are played without cuts! The outer movements do have a few judicious cuts, but to be fair, I've never heard a 78-rpm version of this work that didn't have them. The pioneering version by Albert Coates, of 1932, hacked each of the middle movements down to one side, and Hans Kindler's of 1940 and Gregor Fitelberg's of 1946 each have cuts in the outer movements, the latter hacking the Finale to one side.


  1. Alternate links:

  2. Hi Bryan - I believe this may have been issued on LP as well. I think I have a copy of it, although it may be another in the same series with the generic cover! Thanks for your transfer.

  3. Thanks so much Bryan for that post.
    For sure that symphony remains the less known by the composer.
    A pity.
    I like it so much, in between symphony and orchestral suite form.
    Some of the themes are in common with Hamlet incidental music (not the famous Fantasy Overture)....that I premiered in France and Poland.....

  4. Thank you Bryan, for this and all your post. They're always a treat.

  5. Many thanks, as ever! Best wishes, Nick

  6. Many thanks, Bryan!
    Just a comment regarding whether or not this album was issued on 45 RPM.
    I have a Beecham Discography by Michael Gray that was published by The Sir Thomas Beecham Society in 1997. That discography says that the album was released on 45 RPM album WDM-1279 (45-0338/42). In your note with the download you say that it was not issued on 45 RPM. Is this a case of 45 RPM record numbers being assigned but never released?

  7. Buster - think LM-9001, a reissue of Sibelius' Tapiola and Debussy's Printemps (from DM-1311 and DM-1293) has the same generic cover.

    Byrd - assigned but not released is, I think, the safest assumption. The 1950 RCA catalog gives all DM/WDM sets in numerical order, many of them appearing in both versions, but 1279 is only on 78. By the 1952 catalog, most of the sets are 45 only, and 1279 does not appear at all.

  8. Bryan, many thanks for this great recording!

  9. Hi Bryan. I must first make a premise of central importance: this recording has had two re-prints by Fono Enterprise and Documents, but none of them - with unnatural sound and artifact - can reach the rich and creamy sound of your excellent and how always insuperable pouring. Unmistakable confirms the entire final movement "Allegro con fuoco" with - for example - "appoggiature" and "pizzicati" of contrabbassi that physically make the entire roundness of the original sound reproduction. I took the Flac format. Thank you thank you and good work! Francesco da Cavarzere - Venice (native village of Tullio Serafin).