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Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Balakirev, Mussorgsky / Goossens

Rimsky-korsakov / Scriabin / Rpo / Goossens
Release Date: 10/30/2007 
Label:  Medici Masters   Catalog #: 9-2   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-KorsakovAlexander ScriabinMily BalakirevModest Mussorgsky
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in:   
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A generous collection ... Goossens in repertoire well suited to his prodigious and eloquent imagination...

Goossens' career had a starry trajectory across three continents but ended in scandal, disappointment, ill health and death. The last is unavoidable but his final years had the tragic air of a man trapped by the mean-spiritedness of others.

His forte was music of the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century - especially the exotic. His activities as a composer were substantial and spanned the whole of his life. In his works the exotic and the late-romantic to modern can be heard. It is no surprise to read that he conducted the orchestra for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and the theatre orchestra
Read more for Delius's music for Flecker's Hassan. He also had substantial tenures as chief conductor of the Cincinnati and Sydney orchestras.

The present astonishing recordings, originally made for EMI, belong to the last chapter of his life after the return from Australia.

His Russian Easter Festival is memorable for its sense of whirling frenzy and for a passion that is Tchaikovskian: ironic given Tchaikovsky’s aversion for the Kouchka's nationalism. The violin solos sound very much as if they might be at the hands of Hugh Bean - oddly redolent of the famous Bean-Boult recording of The Lark Ascending. The Scriabin has a wonderfully sustained plastic pulse and the brass playing is nothing short of possessed in much the same way as that of Golovanov's orchestra but with the warbling wind vibrato omitted. The very early stereo sound registers agreeably - especially below forte. Listen to the neatly detailed harps at the end of the Scriabin. It has a really gutsy impact in the Balakirev which is fascinating because I did not recall having heard the magnificently garish Casella orchestration before: Islamey is better known on CD in the orchestration by Liapunov. The downside is that the textures can congeal on occasions where Casella opts for devastating weight rather than transparency. Goossens gives the work a groaningly barbaric performance with the Rimskian frenzy still in evidence from earlier in the session. Goossens was not going to permit anything gentlemanly or 1950s-staid from the Philharmonia.

I wonder who the principal trumpet of the RPO was in September 1957 for Mussorgsky's Pictures. He certainly deserves praise for such a forthright regal delivery in The Promenade - one of many highlights in a performance in which thunderous power is in the ascendancy over subtlety. Those final chordal smashes in The Great Gate of Kiev must have tested the styluses of the time.

Let's have more Goossens to supplement the better know but intermittently available Everest recordings. While we wait, this generous collection shows us Goossens in repertoire well suited to his prodigious and eloquent imagination.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/1956 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 14 Minutes 38 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 4, Op. 54 "Poem of ecstasy" by Alexander Scriabin
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1908; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/1956 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 19 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3.
Oriental Fantasy for Piano, Op. 18 "Islamey" by Mily Balakirev
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869/1902; Russia 
Date of Recording: 02/08/1956 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Alfredo Casella.
 
4.
Pictures at an Exhibition for Orchestra (orchestrated by Ravel) by Modest Mussorgsky
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1874/1922; Russia 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 30 Minutes 6 Secs. 

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