Many years ago, 1958 to be precise, Kenneth Alwyn recorded Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture for Decca (SXL 2001) with the Band of the Grenadier Guards and the LSO. It’s terrific. Link to it below; it takes several seconds for the LP to click into gear.
Sad news: conductor Kenneth Alwyn has died at the age of 95.
Dec 12, 2020 | News | 4 comments
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This was a Christmas present from my parents in the mid-1960s, and I suspect I wasn’t the only record-mad youngster – I must have been around 11 – to have been bowled over by this demonstration-quality LP, a fine example of early Decca stereo. This 1812 has everything but the kitchen sink: hugely clamorous bells (‘a festival of campanology’ in the words of the October 1958 Gramophone review), an organ and the Band of the Grenadier Guards. The seismic cannon effects? Simply gunshots slowed down and put through an echo chamber, apparently!
Australian Decca Eloquence have done a superb transfer to CD of Alwyn’s *LSO recording of the 1812 Overture, Marche Slave, and Capriccio Italien, coupling them with Alwyn directing the LPO in the Op. 20 Swan Lake suite. The LP* sounded state-of-the art to my teenage ears in 1958 (and I heard it on a top-class hifi system), but the latest CD transfer does more than justice to the originals and can be highly recommended. (Catalogue Number: ELQ4805048)
Reissued on Eloquence with more Alwyn Tchaikovsky: as the French label shows, Decca’s very first SXL.
I seem to recall the Alwyn 1812 competed with the slightly earlier Dorati version from Minneapolis, which I still have somewhere.