Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra/Eduard van Beinum, cond.

BACH:  Suite No. 1 in C, BWV 1066. Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067.  Suite No. 3 in D, BWV 1068.  Suite No. 4 in D, BWV 1069.  MOZART:  Serenade No. 9 in D, K. 320 "Posthorn"
Sound Dynamics Associates SDA 2001-112 (2 CDs)  TT:  63:20 & 59:56

SCHUBERT:  Symphony No. 4 in C Minor "Tragic."  Incidental Music for Rosamunde (Overture, Entr'acte in B Flat, Ballet Music in G).
Sound Dynamics Associates SDA 2001-83  TT:  50:49

PIJPER:  Piano Concerto (Hans Henkemans, pianist).  Symphony No. 3.  Six Epigrams.  DIEPENBROCK: Marysas -- Prelude and Entr'acte.
Sound Dynamics Associates SDA 2001-143  TT:  49:42

For the Van Beinum collector these three releases are of greatest importance, performances not otherwise available on CD.  The first two Bach Suites were recorded May 31 - June 2, 1955, the second two in April 1956. A pristine copy of the original Epic twin-LP issue of all four (SC 6024) was used for these transfers.  It seems Philips engineers were experimenting a bit with microphones; these recordings are somewhat unresonant compared with Beinum's Bruckner Eighth recorded a few days after the first two suites. As you would expect, Beinum has a direct, no-affectation approach to Bach.  Hubert Barwahser, who became first flute of the Concertgebouw in 1936 and remained in that position until 1971, plays magnificently in Suite No. 2. Mozart's "Posthorn" was recorded a month after the second two suites, in May 1956.  For me this has always been one of the most delectable Beinum performances. Music-making of the highest order is heard here, particularly the extraordinary interplay between woodwinds and crisp string articulation throughout. This performance never before has sounded as good as it does here. A perfect copy of Epic LC 3354 was used, producers have cleaned up splices in the original recording, and a mistake in the posthorn solo in the final minuet has been corrected.

The Schubert collection is equally valuable as it offers Beinum's vigorous account of the "Tragic" Symphony, recorded December 1952, a perfect complement to the Philips Dutch Masters issue of symphonies 3, 6 and 8. The excerpts from Rosamunde were recorded earlier that year (in the same time period Beinum recorded Mahler's Symphony No. 4, a suite from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a suite from Handel's Royal Fireworks, and Jeremiah Clark's Trumpet Voluntary....and Josef Krips recorded Schubert's Great C-major symphony).  Collectors surely will own the essential "Eduard van Beinum -- Live..the Radio Recordings." It contains the Entr'acte 3 and Ballet Music No. 2 in a live performance recorded July 7, 1940 displaying the strong influence of Mengelberg.  The later version does not use portamento.

Beinum always promoted music of Dutch composers and recorded it as well.  The third CD offers his 1954 Epic (Philips) recordings of Pijer's piano concerto and Six Epigrams as well as the 1953 Decca (London) recording of Symphony No. 3.  Hans Henkemans, a leading Dutch composer in his own right,  is soloist in the 13-minute concerto, a pleasant enough 7-movement work showing both Impressionistic and jazz influences which can also be heard in the brief (6:07) Six  Epigrams.  The Third Symphony, composed in 1926, was dedicated to Pierre Monteux and premiered by him in Amsterdam that year.  The French conductor continued to champion the work, conducting it with other orchestras; the Dutch Radio once issued a live Concertgebouw performance from an October 30, 1960 concert.  In this five-section short (13:47) "symphony" Pijper calls for a huge orchestra which performs only in small groups.  The piano figures so prominently some have suggested it should be called a concerto; however the piano is not that prominent.  Yet Jan van Bart's Discografie van het Concertgebouworkest states during the May1953 recording session Clifford Curzon played "obligaat pianopartij," although his name is not mentioned on the LP (London LL 851). And this creates yet another question: scoring includes piano (four hands) -- who provided the other two hands, one wonders?  At any rate, it's a brisk, often dynamic symphony that seems to just sort of end.  Van Beinum's live performance from October 2, 1957, included in the Beinum Live set mentioned above, is tighter and more dynamic than the 1953 recording.  The CD is filled out with music of another leading Dutch composer, Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921), his Marsyas Prelude and Entr'acte written as incidental music to a "mystical play" by Dutch author Balthazar Berhagen.  In the Prelude, Marsyas awakens to the spring with a flute solo, presumably that of Athene now found by Marysas, and in the Entr'acte wanderings through the forest are depicted.  It's a lovely score and one can easily understand why Diepenbrock often is referred to as the "Dutch Debussy."

All three CDs are highly recommended.  One might have wished for longer playing time on the two single CDs, but the price is modest, the CD transfers first-rate—and you can't get them anywhere else.  The CDs can be ordered  from the Sound Dynamics Associates website (www.sd-associates.com).

R.E.B. (Aug. 2001)