Goossens: Russian Easter Festival Ov, Coq d'Or + Islamey - Capitol SG 7158
Jacket EX / LP EX
This lovely LP from Capitol (SG 7158, US pressing, rainbow label / Capitol logo at 9 o’clock, stereo) features conductor Sir Eugene Goossens and the Philharmonia Orchestra in a truly stunning all-Russian music program, sumptuously recorded in the fabled acoustics of London's Kingsway Hall in February 1956.
The exact contents are as follows:
Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Festival Overture Op. 36
Rimsky-Korsakov: Le Coq d'Or Suite
Balakirev (orch. Casella): Oriental Fantasy Op. 18 "Islamey"
Of a Medici Arts CD re-issue of some of this material, the outstanding critic Rob Barnett wrote for MusicWeb-International:
"[Goossen's] 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."
There are eloquent liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket by J. McKay Martin, printed in English only. The striking cover art is credited to Kelly-Seltzer.