Monday, November 15, 2010

Constant Lambert Conducts

This week I present several rare recordings by Constant Lambert (1905-1951), conductor, composer, raconteur, writer and wit.  As a conductor, he was renowned for his interpretations of Russian and English music, and both are featured in these downloads.  From Russia we get Lambert's brilliant and exciting interpretations of two tone poems, Tchaikovsky's Hamlet and Glazunov's Stenka Razin, and from England the Purcell Chaconne in G minor in a string orchestra arrangment.  (This is not the famous Purcell Chacony, as the first volume of the World's Encyclopedia of Music erroneously states - but an arrangement of No. 6 of the Ten Sonatas in Four Parts, which is also in G minor and also in the form of a chaconne.)  These three different recordings feature three different orchestras, and in fact the Glazunov was the first appearance of the Liverpool Philharmonic on records.  Here are the details:

Tchaikovsky: Hamlet - Overture-Fantasia, Op. 67
Hallé Orchestra conducted by Constant Lambert
Recorded October 9, 1942
Columbia Masterworks set MX-243, 2 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 43.11 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 22.31 MB)

Glazunov: Stenka Razin - Symphonic Poem, Op. 13
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Constant Lambert
Recorded December 22, 1942 and January 12, 1943
English Columbia DX 1107 and DX 1108, 2 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 35.87 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 16.24 MB)

Purcell, arr. Whittaker: Chaconne in G minor, Z. 807
Philharmonia String Orchestra conducted by Constant Lambert
Recorded October 12, 1945
English Columbia DX 1230, 1 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 22.15 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 8.98 MB)

Back in 2008 I uploaded another Constant Lambert recording, in tandem with one by Walter Goehr, as both featured orchestral works of Bizet in their first recordings.  These have been re-uploaded; the details:

Bizet: Carnival (from "Roma" Suite)
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Constant Lambert
Recorded October 29, 1943
English Columbia DX 1136, 1 78-rpm record
Link (FLAC file, 17.37 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 6.63 MB)

Bizet: Symphony in C Major (+ Danse Bohemienne from "Fair Maid of Perth")
London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Walter Goehr
Recorded November 26, 1937
Victor Musical Masterpiece Set DM-721, 4 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 67.45 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 32.23 MB)


  1. Hello Bryan. Thanks for the 'Hamlet' (in particular) as Lambert gets such exciting results (he was also my mothers favourite), and such a contrast to, say, Leslie Heward, with the same orchestras. Nice-sounding transfers: doubt I could 'tame' the Borodin 2nd Symphony Columbia DX's (appear to have 3 sets) quite as successfully.

  2. Thanks Bryan - this is great. You always have items of interest.

  3. Bryan, I echo Buster. I paired these recordings up with the Weldon Dvorak and Glinka. Nice reminders of good musicmaking going on during the 40's in the English provinces.


  4. Thanks guys! And Frank, I hope you'll have a go at the Borodin anyway, because I have one-fourth as many sets as you have! My copy is missing one record, and what remains is in pretty bad shape.