This is another entry in the wonderful Artone series on performers--a cornucopia of 4 CDs. This collection runs from Beethoven to Berlioz to Britten. Included are recordings when he conducted the London Philharmonic and the glorious Concertgebouw Orchestra.
For the record, here is what appears here: Beethoven, Symphony # 4 and the Creatures of Prometheus Ballet Suite; Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique; Rossini, William Tell Overture, La Gazza Ladra Overture; Brahms, Symphony # 3; Mendelssohn, Violin Concerto in E Minor, A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture; Ravel, Rapsodie Espagnole; Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra; Britten, Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. What a diverse array of works!
As I was listening to the various pieces, somehow I got attached to overtures, so examples of cuts in this collection tend to focus on those pieces, although the 4 CD set overall is very appealing.
Beethoven: Creatures of Prometheus
I had never really listened to the music, other than the Overture. This time, I did listen to a variety of cuts in the ballet suite. Of course, the overture is perhaps the best know segment. It begins at a stately pace (perhaps too stately). The London Philharmonic plays quite well (this was recorded in 1952). The pace picks up nicely after the opening bars. There is a nice Beethovenian crescendo to close the overture out. The Allegro begins with the strings, taken at a tempo that sure spells Allegro to my ears. Then, the finale. I'd never listened beyond the Overture before, so it caught me by surprise to hear the familiar sounds of his Third Symphony as a part of this work. Somehow, it ends up working
and closes in a satisfactory manner.
Rossini: La Gazza Ladra
This might be my favorite Rossini overture (and there are a lot of good candidates from which to choose!). This overture is famously front and center in Kubrick's movie, "A Clockwork Orange." The work is played by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, in fine form here. The introduction is quite spirited. The second part is also played at a quick pace, crackling with vivacity. It closes with brio. A very solid version.
Mendelssohn: Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream
This is also played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, recorded in 1952. It begins with the familiar soft notes. Then, the strings pick up the pace. This is a bon-bon and a lot of fun, played well by the orchestra. The change in dynamics, from piano to forte is done well. An attractive version.
In the final analysis, for a listener who wants a sense of van Beinum's art, this is a pretty good starting point.