Nikolai Golovanov Conducts Beethoven Triple Concerto – Oistrakh Trio – Forgotten Records

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Classical CD Reviews, Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Violin Concerto No. 5 “Turkish”; BEETHOVEN: ; Egmont Overture – David Oistrakh, violin/ Lev Oborin, piano/ Sviatoslav Knushevitsky, cello/ USSR Radio-Symphony Orchestra/ Nikolai Golovanov – Forgotten Records FR 2251 (68:29) [] ****:  

Forgotten Records assembles music by Mozart and Beethoven, recorded 1949-1951, as led by Soviet conductor Nikolai Golovanov (1891-1953), who had long been associated with the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet, and had achieved distinction until his untimely dismissal by Stalin, purportedly for having engaged Jewish vocalist Mark Reizen to sing Boris Gudonov. He conducted the premiere performances of a number of works, among them Nikolai Myaskovsky‘s Sixth Symphony in May 1924. Golovanov cultivated an affinity for the music of Scriabin and Liszt, each a singular visionary. Golovanov developed a highly athletic style of conducting, often tolerating distortions of rhythm and dynamics offensive to purists. He and his chosen violin soloist, David Oistrakh (1908-1974), with whom he also collaborated on record in Scheherazade, deliver a superbly chaste performance of the Mozart “Turkish Concerto, the same work Oistrakh chose for his New York debut with the Philharmonic under Mitropoulos.  

Derived from the Period label 78s transfer – likely a pirated format taken from Russia’s Melodiya label – the concertos suffer some sonic compression, though Alain Deguernel and associates at Forgotten Records have restored their clarity of intonation. The 1775 A Major Concerto, written when Mozart was 19, basks in the kind of warm lyricism Oistrakh consistently projects, though the last movement, despite the janissary color of the middle section, lacks mirth. The bass strings of Golovanov’s ensemble assume a muddiness and thick patina that detracts from the effect, but the collaborative verve of the moment carries the day.

Recorded on 1950 78s for an obscure Russian label, the familiar Egmont Overture begins gloomily enough, establishing the F minor milieu of political oppression. Soon, Golovanov accelerates the tempo, investing a mania that the brass players cannot maintain their entries faithfully without mishap. Whether judged as a whirlwind performance or an ensemble debacle, the reading will confirm several criticisms of Golovanov’s technique.

The Beethoven “Triple Concerto” (1803) remains the composer’s creative concession to Baroque music practice, besides occupying a rare place in his cello repertory. The so-called “Oistrakh Trio” appears here in 1949, but they took their concept to EMI later, 1959, for a recording with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Golovanov begins the Allegro ominously, graduating the crescendo of the main theme, so its pomp and dotted-rhythm lyricism emerge simultaneously. Knushevitsky’s suave cello tone will dominate each musical entry, followed by mellow Oistrakh and impeccable Oborin, except his keyboard sound feels muffled. Triplet figures dominate the texture, playful and varied, moving into an A minor development. The three participants engage in fiery, intimate chamber music alterations with the orchestral tutti, to make Beethoven’s equivalent of a rich concerto grosso. The serenity of the violin-cello occasion transfigures the A-flat Largo into a special moment, in spite of the sonic limits of the recording. With no pause between movements, the slow movement segues immediately into a hearty Rondo-polonaise whose middle section assumes bolero rhythm. The brio of this movement, diminished only by the antique sonics, proves totally infectious, a fine illustration of Golovanov’s musicianship when not obstructed by personal mannerisms.

–Gary Lemco 

Golovanov conducts Beethoven, Mozart

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 “Turkish”

Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra in C Major, Op. 56 “Triple Concerto”;
Egmont – Overture, Op. 84a


More information through Forgotten Records

Album Cover for Golovanov Conducts Beethoven