A few days ago a friend of mine asked:
"A few days ago, I was given a CD of French orchestral works
conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham (Classica d'Oro CDO 1044 -
disclaimer). Track 12 (the last one on this CD) was supposed
to be Chabrier's ouverture "Gwendoline". Therefore, I was much
surprised when I began to listen to the Adagio of Rachmaninov's
Symphony No. 2. It was so beautifully played,so intense and so
well controlled that I decided to file the CD under Rachmaninov.
I had never heard the Adagio played this way by anyone. I timed
the Adagio at 17:10, thus making it the slowest version of it
that I know. None of the versions I have (Temirkanov 1, Fischer,
Ormandy, Rodzhetsvensky,Stokowsky (HBO),Previn (VPO) has an
Adagio with those timings. A check on the Beecham discography
didn't offer a clue: he seems to have never recorded Rachmaninov's
Symphony No. 2. Or, at least, no recording has surfaced so far.
So, at this stage, I am stuck (not complaining, but frustrated)
with a superbly played movement from a symphony I love and having
absolutely no idea about who conducted it or what orchestra
played it. The recording sounded to me like discrete stereo from
the late 50's or early 60's (but I could be wrong). I guess the
timing should be the best clue. Any help will be gratefully
I myself was able to add that in the Dec., 2000 issue of Gramophone the
following information appeared:
Review of a 40 CD set from the "History" label.
"Also the track that is said to contain Beecham's 1955 recording
of the overture to Gwendoline actually delivers someone else
performance of the slow mvt. of Rachmaninoff's second symphony.
I haven't yet established whose."
this is on p.55 and by Rob Cowan. This set includes many historical
recordings including e.g. the Mengelberg M4 and all kinds of stuff that
many of us are familiar with. Once one company makes the error, the CD is
simply cloned without even listening to it by other pirates. The same
labelling is simply attached. I am sure someone has solved this by now.
Finally my friend sent this additional information:
"My other CD player times the whole track at 17:15, but the music
lasts for about 17:05 (the last pianissimo is beautifully done,
So I am assuming that in the six years since Mr. Cowan's remarks and the
present someone may have solved this puzzle.
Thanks for any help,