Beinum/LPO: Elgar Wand of Youth Suites Nos. 1 & 2 - Decca LXT 5279, lovely copy
Jacket NM / LP EX / UK pressing
This beautiful LP – a superb collector’s copy – from Decca (LXT 5279, English pressing, orange/silver label, mono only – no stereo edition exists, lamianted flipback jacket) features conductor Eduard van Beinum and the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s wonderfully evocative accounts of the Suties Nos. 1 and 2 from Edward Elgar’s The Wand of Youth.
Of Australian Decca’s re-issue of these performances in the “Eloquence” series, the great critic Peter J. Rabinowtiz wrote for Fanfare:
“Set down during the transition from 78s to 33s, these were groundbreaking recordings. At the time, Elgar was rarely taken up by non-British conductors. In fact, Elgar recordings by anyone were still scarce…Fair enough, but aside from their historic status, how do they hold up? Remarkably well. Eduard van Beinum was just starting his brief tenure as principal conductor of the London Philharmonic, but there’s a palpable sense of communication in these high-energy readings, which offer lean and tangy, even slightly wiry, interpretations—interpretations that, with their clean textures and bold timbral contrasts, run slightly against the grain of tradition.
“On the whole, the quicker passages come across best; you’re more apt, for instance, to remember the concerto for the biting brass in the finale than for any special depth in the Adagio, just as you’re more apt to remember the first Wand of Youth Suite for the rhythmic vitality and Tchaikovskian sparkle of the finale than for the nostalgia of the “Slumber Scene.” Still, there are moments of poignant tenderness, too (the Elegy is especially eloquent)….tomorrow
“The winds sometimes seem slightly approximate in their more rapid-fire outbursts (for instance, “The Little Bells” from Wand of Youth Suite No. 2 ). But for the most part, the orchestral playing is deft, and the sound is fine for the period. Far from essential, perhaps, but warmly commended to Elgarians with extensive collections.”
Both Suites were recorded in the fabled acoustics of London’s Kingsway Hall, No. 1 on 5 February 1949 and No. 2 on 13 February 1950 This album was produced by Victor Olof and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson.
Incidentally, the amazing cover art was executed by Francis Philipps. There are fine liner notes by R.B. on the reverse side of the jacket, printed in English only.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is near-MINT. There is slight bumping/wear at corners, but that is all. Otherwise, the album appears almost as new. There are no seamsplits, bends, owners' markings, or other defects, and the whole remains solid, bright, and glossy, and highly attractive – overall, a very fine collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is EXCELLENT. Although the surfaces are not absolutely silent, really this is a fine copy and the playback is enjoyable. Those requiring a flawless or near-MINT copy are kindly advised to look elsewhere. Overall, this is an excellent collector's copy.