Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence

Berlioz: The Trojans (The Beecham Collection)



The long-awaited recording of The Trojans conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a French cast in the main roles is the most precious among the gems in the prestigious SOMM Beecham Collection.

Marisa Ferrer
Jean Giraudeau
Charles Gambon
Yvonne Corke
BBC Theatre Chorus
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham

Although Sir Thomas had made statements about staging Les Troyens as early as 1910 and had the work listed for proposed performance with his Imperial League of Opera scheme in 1930, his earliest and more realistic plans to conduct the work in the opera house were announced at the end of the 1938-9 season, during his tenure at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, when he included it in his programmes for 1940. He even sent his secretary, Berta Geissmar, to Paris at the time, in order to see the production at the Paris Opera. The outbreak of war put a stop to these plans, the opera company ceasing to function again until September 1946. His  first opportunity to present the opera in total came in 1947 with the possibility of a BBC studio performance from Maida Vale.

This studio performance was recorded with a hand-picked team of soloists, his Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Theatre Chorus. Beecham recorded the first part of the opera, La Prise de Troie (The Capture of Troy) on 3rd and 6th June, while the second part, Les Troyens à Carthage (The Trojans at Carthage), was recorded on 2nd and 4th July. The performance was transmitted in the BBC Third Programme and Alan Jefferson, in his centenary tribute to Beecham, tells us that Sir Thomas was paid £437.10s. 0d. for each part.

We are indeed fortunate that this recording has survived to give us a taste of what might have been in the opera house. From what has been preserved here and in spite of the technical limitations, the spirited presentation of the opening bars immediately gives a sense of what an occasion it would have been on stage. As Sir Thomas magically unfolds the drama, it reminds us of the opinion that he had many of the characteristics of a latter-day Berlioz.

Jefferson wrote that The manner in which Beecham expounded Berlioz’s music seemed like a ferocious vindication of its creator and Charles Reid, in his study, Thomas Beecham, said In more than one aspect, Beecham was Hector Berlioz reincarnated and transplanted. Neville Cardus said that Sir Thomas could find the wave-length of Berlioz whose music appealed to his un-German ear, sense of rhythm and also to his tremendous confidence in himself as an “accoucheur” (midwife). He was one of the first of our conductors to understand the irregular lengths of the Berlioz phrasing and meter.

Alec Robertson, in reviewing Beecham in Berlioz, said In his autobiography Berlioz says that the performers, and especially the conductor, ought to feel as he does, and that is precisely the impression that Sir Thomas and his forces give us.  These insights from writers on Beecham, who knew the man and his music, are amply demonstrated in this recording of Les Troyens.

The booklet features complete track listings and a detailed synopsis

On This Recording

  1. Les Troyens: Act I: Ha, Ha! Apres dix ans (Chorus of the Trojan People)
  2. Les Troyens: Act I: Recitaive and Aria: Les Grecs ont disparu! (Cassandre)
  3. Les Troyens: Act I: Duet: C'est lui! - Cavatine: Reviens a toi - Pauvre ame egaree! - Si tu m'aimes - Mais le ciel et la terre - Quitte-nous des ces soir (Cassandre, Chorebe)
  4. Les Troyens: Act I: March and Hymn: Dieux protecteurs de la ville eternelle (Chorus)
  5. Les Troyens: Act I: Pantomime (Chorus, Cassandre)
  6. Les Troyens: Act I: Recitative: Du peuple et des soldats (Enee)
  7. Les Troyens: Act I: Chatiment effroyable! (Priam, Panthee, Chorebe, Enee, Helenus, Cassandre, Ascagne, Hecube, Chorus)
  8. Les Troyens: Act I: Que la deesse nous protege - A cet objet sacre formez cortege (Enee, Priam, All)
  9. Les Troyens: Act I: Aria: Non, je ne verrai pas la deplorable fete (Cassandre)
  10. Les Troyens: Act I: Finale (Trojan March): Du roi des dieux (Chorus, Cassandre)
  11. Les Troyens: Act II Scene 1: Recitative: O lumiere de troie! (Enee) - Ah! … fuis, fils de venus (The Ghost of Hector)
  12. Les Troyens: Act II Scene 1: Recitative: Quelle esperance encor (Enee, Panthee, Ascagne, Chorebe) - Le salut des vaincus est de n'en plus attendre (Enee, Panthee, Chorus)
  13. Les Troyens: Act II Scene 2: Ha! Puissante Cybele (Trojan Women)
  14. Les Troyens: Act II Scene 2: Recitative: Tous ne periront pas (Cassandre) - Oh digne soeur d'Hector (Chorus)
  15. Les Troyens: Act II Scene 2: Finale: Complices de sa gloire (Chorus, Cassandre, Greek Captain) - Le tresori le tresori (Greek Soldiers)
  16. Les Troyens: Act III: Prelude - Les Troyens a Cartage
  17. Les Troyens: Act III: De carthage les cieux (Chorus)
  18. Les Troyens: Act III: National Anthem: Gloire, gloire a Didon (Chorus)
  19. Les Troyens: Act III: Recitative - Aria: Nous avons vu finir sept ans e peine (Didon) - Chers Tyriens (Didon, Chorus)
  20. Les Troyens: Act III: Entry of Builders
  21. Les Troyens: Act III: Entry of the Sailors
  22. Les Troyens: Act III: Entry of the Farm-Workers
  23. Les Troyens: Act III: Recitative: Peuple! Tous les honneurs (Didon, Chorus)
  24. Les Troyens: Act III: Recitative and Duet: Les chants joyeux (Didon, Anna)
  25. Les Troyens: Act III: Recitative and Aria: Echappes a grand peine (Iopas, Didon)
  26. Les Troyens: Act III: Trojan March (in the sad mode) - J'eprouve une soudaine et vive impatience (Didon)
  27. Les Troyens: Act III: Recitative: Auguste reine, un peuple errant et malhereux (Ascagne, Didon, Panthee)
  28. Les Troyens: Act III: Finale: J'ose a peine annoncer la terrible nouvelle! (Narbal, Didon, Chorus) - Reine! (Enee, All)
  29. Les Troyens: Act IV: Recitative: Dites, narbal, qui cause vos alarmes? (Anna, Narbal)
  30. Les Troyens: Act IV: Aria: De quels revers menaces tu carthage? (Narbal) - Cavatina: Vaine terreur (Anna) - De quels revers (Narbal, Anna)
  31. Les Troyens: Act IV: March of the Entry of the Queen
  32. Les Troyens: Act IV: Ballet: Dance of the Egyptian Girls - Dance of the Slaves - Dance of the Nubian Slave Girls
  33. Les Troyens: Act IV: Assez, ma soeur (Didon) - O blonde Cere (Iopas)
  34. Les Troyens: Act IV: O pudeuri! Tout conspire (Didon, Enee, Ascagne, Anna, Iopas, Narbal, Panthee, Chorus)
  35. Les Troyens: Act IV: Mais bannissons ces tristes souvenirs (Enee) - Tout n'est que paix et charme (Didon, Enee, Ascagne, Anna, Iopas, Narbal, Panthee, Chorus)
  36. Les Troyens: Act IV: Nuit d'ivresse et d'extase infnie! (Didon, Enee, Mercure)
  37. Les Troyens: Act IV: Royal Hunt and Storm
  38. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 1: Vallon sonore (Hylas, 2 Sentries)
  39. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 1: Recitative: Preparez tout, il faut partir enfin (Panthee) - Chaque jour voit grandir la colere des dieux (Panthee, Trojan Chieftains, Spirits)
  40. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 1: Duet: Par bacchusi ils sont fous avec leur italie! (Sentries)
  41. Les Troyens: Act V: Recitative and Aria: Inutiles regrets! - Ah! Quand viendra l'instant des supremes adieux (Enee)
  42. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 1: Enee! (Spirits, Enee)
  43. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 1: Debout, Troynes, eveillez-vous, alerte! (Enee) - Alerte! entendez-vous, amis, la voix d'enee? (Chorus)
  44. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 1: Duet: Errante sur tes pas (Didon, Enee) - Italie! (Enee, The Trojans)
  45. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 2: Va, ma soeur, l'implorer (Didon, Anna)
  46. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 2: En mer, voyez! Six vaisseaux! (Chorus, Iopas, Didon, Anna, Narbal)
  47. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 2: Ah! Ah! Je vais mourir! (Didon)
  48. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 2: Aria: Adieu, fiere cite (Didon)
  49. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 3: Ceremony for the Dead: Dieux de l'oubli, dieux du tenare (Chorus of Priests of Pluto) - S'il faut enfin qu'enee aborde en Italie (Anna, Narbal, Chorus)
  50. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 3: Pluton … Semble m'etre propice … (Didon)
  51. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 3: Ah! au secours! au secours! La reine s'est frappee! (All)
  52. Les Troyens: Act V Scene 3: Imprecation: Rome … Rome … Immortelle! (Didon) - Haine eternelle a la race d'enee! (Chorus)
  53. Les Troyens: Applause