Sir Thomas Beecham – ABC (or Blue Network) Symphony April 7, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
This one is for the fastidious – I have debated the past few years over whether to run this concert or not. For no other reason than the sound is atrocious. This performance is derived from a set of Armed Forces Radio transcriptions; something of a hit or miss proposition anyway, depending on where it was initially recorded. No. This one, although not an ideal recording, suffers from terrible treatment at whoever had it before me. As best as I can figure out, the discs were used for packing material, after they were deemed unplayable for being stored face down, without sleeves on someones garage or basement floor. Adding insult to injury is the extra added bonus of heat damage; not bad enough to be suffering from warpage and a jumping needle, but bad enough that one of the discs is afflicted with a persistent swish that can be distracting at best.
But this is a historic recording, by an important conductor during a time when one radio network was undergoing a transformation (there were originally two NBC Radio networks; the Red one and the Blue one). This is around the time the NBC Blue Network became The ABC Radio Network and most likely for the confusion, not only on the disc labels but with Milton Cross’s announcements.
At any rate – I have worked off and on for the past few months, washing, filtering, de-clicking, scrubbing and otherwise trying to breathe some life into some very abused recordings. It would be great if better sounding sources appeared, but Classical Music isn’t high on most Old Time Radio Collectors lists (and probably one of the reasons for all the abuse), so it’s doubtful this may show up in either better condition or at all. One can only hope.
That said – this is one of the representative recordings of Beecham during his tenure in the U.S. during the War, when he guest conducted several orchestras around the country between the years 1940 and 1945. Also, it features the first radio performance of the Handel-Beecham arrangement of The Great Elopement – so there’s that.
So apologies up front and begging your indulgence over the rotten sound. I don’t like doing it, especially since I’m a big practitioner of presenting history in the best possible light.
But some things can’t be helped, and like they say: for art you must suffer.
Enjoy as much as you can.
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