LPO / Sir Adrian Boult – The 1956 Nixa-Westminster Stereo Recordings, 3 CDs – (Vol. 2)

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‘A revelation!’ (Diapason)
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“What a great pleasure to welcome all of these performances in state-of-the-art transfers from master tapes…”
(American Record Guide)

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
1-4. Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, ‘Spring’, Op. 38 [30:55]
5-8. Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120 [28:42]

1-4. Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61 [30:33]
5-9 Symphony No. 3 in E flat major,  ‘Rhenish’, Op. 97 [29:21]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
10. Waverley – Overture, Op. 1

1. Le Corsaire – Overture, Op. 21 [8:37]
2. Le Roi Lear – Overture, Op. 4 [15:48]
3. Beatrice et Benedict, Act I : Overture [7:38]
4. Rob Roy – Overture [12:05]
5. Benvenuto Cellini, Act I : Overture [10:46]
6. Les Francs-juges : Overture, Op. 3 [13:19]
7. Le Carnaval romain – Overture, Op. 9 [8:37]

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Adrian Boult

First release on CD of the original Westminster source masters: CD 3, 1-4
First stereo release on CD: CD 2, Track 10, CD 3, Tracks 1-3, 5-7
First stereo recordings: CD 1, CD 2, Tracks 5-10, CD 3, Track 4 

Recording dates: 21-24 & 28-29 August 1956
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London
Principal balance engineer: Herbert Zeithammer
Second balance engineer: Mario Mizzaro
Producer: Kurt List
Remastering engineer: Ian Jones (Abbey Road Studios)
Liner notes: Colin Anderson & Sir Adrian Boult
Issue note: Peter Bromley
Release date: November 2010
Total duration: 3 hrs 26 mins 46 secs

This significant historical release follows on from the successful Vol. 1 in this series. All the Schumann Symphonies and the complete Berlioz Overtures, some receiving their CD debuts, are presented here in a fabulously packaged 3CD digipack set. These 1956 Nixa-Westminster recordings have been faithfully remastered at Abbey Road Studios from original analogue tapes held in the EMI and Universal archives. The sound quality is quite astonishing, especially considering they were made over fifty years ago. Sir Adrian Boult is featured, conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in recordings he would never return to again in the studio. Boult’s swinging yet atmospheric performances of the Berlioz Overtures complement the rigorous and personal accounts of the Schumann Symphonies. This issue also contains notes written by Sir Adrian Boult originally reproduced on the sleeves of the Schumann LP releases.

Click here to open/save booklet notes


Press Quotes

***** (Musica 245, Italy)

“Vibrantly played, modern in tone, authentic in spirit. Boult steers the fastest first movement of all in a manner possibly closer to Schumann’s intention than any other” (“The Historical choice for Schumann Symphony No. 3, The Gramophone Collection)

“The high production values that distinguished Volume 1 of First Hand Records’ reissue of Sir Adrian Boult’s “1956 Nixa-Westminster Stereo Recordings” with the London Philharmonic are again in evidence for Vol 2…three CDs and a booklet neatly packed into a sturdy gatefold envelope – is both space-saving and user-friendly. In other words, it’s a model product of its kind…. So a very welcome addition to the Boult discography, and added proof that this most straight-backed of maestros was quite capable of making sparks fly.” (Gramophone Magazine)

“Three cheers for this hugely welcome follow up to First Hand Records’ invaluable restoration of Boult’s August 1956 Elgar, Walton and Britten recordings for Nixa-Westminster. I’m delighted to be able to report that the Schumann symphonies in particular have never leapt out of my loudspeakers in quite such irrepressibly vivid fashion as they do here…Let me conclude by saying that the presentation is first-class… In the meantime, this is a gem of a set and absolutely not to be missed.”

(Classical Source)

“What a great pleasure to welcome all of these performances in state-of-the-art transfers from master tapes…I was very impressed by how well these vintage tapes held together…If you still have any doubts about the resounding success of First Hand’s transfers, all you have to do is pull down the old LPs from your shelf, put the Berlioz in your CD player and follow Westminster’s traditional advice: Listen – and Compare.” (American Record Guide)

“New recordings, mostly unedited, are rendered here in breathtaking stereo… A revelation! The quality of these Schumanns reminds us that Boult studied at the Leipzig Conservatory, worked with Arthur Nikisch, and that he, out of all the British conductors, is the one who is most successful with the German repertoire… This excellent re-mastering restores the sound quality of the tapes created for Nixa-Westminster. We should also praise the Berlioz Overtures recorded on the same date; at once vigorous and nervous, the rhythmic ductility and Boult’s controlled phrasing create miracles.” (Diapson)

“…I have seldom enjoyed any of these overtures as much as I enjoyed Boult’s well-paced, sober readings. When he turns the brass section loose, it’s all the more effective … and it’s a good brass section, too. Bravo, or should I say “bravi!… To sum it up: splendid, straightforward Berlioz overtures (he doesn’t treat them as superficial showpieces) and a fascinating, if erratic, set of the Schumann symphonies. First Hand’s transfers seem like honest (i.e., minimal tweaking) enhancements of the originals with just a very faint undercurrent of the original tape hiss – I expect that you’ll hardly notice it. As in the earlier Boult set, there are extremely detailed, extensive annotations that are appropriate for such a project as this.” (Fanfare Magazine)

“…First hand have done a very good job in converting this degraded source material into acceptable early stereo quality…” (Classic Review Quarterly)

“Last year First Hand Records (FHR) issued a marvellous set of Boult’s stereo recordings of British music made for Westminster in August 1956… Boult takes schumann by the scruff of the neck and conducts a most exciting cycle of the symphonies: quick, bracing and energetically driven… The whole cycle is immensely refreshing… As with the first volume, FHR has done an extraordinarily good job with the remastering of these early stereo recordings… Presentation is all it should be, with excellent documentation by Colin Anderson as well as Boult himself, and some fascinating session photos.”
(International Record Review)

(performance ***** Sound quality ****
Opus Magazine, Sweden)

“The recordings on this set are – except as noted – vivid indeed with soloistic pages reaching out strongly to the listener… The fourfold card case neatly houses the booklet and 3 discs. A nice touch is the reproduction of the LP sleeves of the 1950s issues – 4 Schumann and 2 Berlioz…” (Musicweb-International)

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