Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Manfred Symphony 48.44 *
Tapiola 16.22 **
LSO/Eugene Goossens *  LSO/Tauno Hannikainen **
EVEREST EVC 9025 [65.16]

Goossens was on the evidence of this delightul reissue no mean Tchaikovskian. Unlike his interpretation of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances there is a tautness and pliant response in his Manfred. Recorded in 1959 at Walthamstow Assembly Hall Goossens, orchestra and engineers lose not a trick and the recording assembles and reflects back to us across the years the fantasy, and impact of this the least regarded among the late symphonies. It was writen between the 4th and 5th symphonies and has elements of both - tough (leaning strongly towards No. 5) and the dramatic-balletic stream. In the last movement Tchaikovsky lets loose a stream of music more in touch with Balakirev's Russian nationalism than we are used to from this source. The analogue encoding from 35mm three track magnetic film served the engineers (and us) very well indeed. This is not a match for the subtleties of today's recording tehcnique but its high haemoglobin count and adrenalin quota efface any concerns. I enjoyed this performance almost as much as my reference disc: the BMG-Melodiya Svetlanov. At midprice this is an outstanding bargain.

Hannikainen is best known as a Sibelius conductor and I can recall LPs of Sibelius 2 and 5 on EMI. Long before that he had recorded the Lemminkainen Legends on Melodiya (now that I would like to hear - anyone got a tape?). The Tapiola was originally coupled with Tossy Spivakovsky's Sibelius Violin Concerto (now generously harnessed with Spivakovsky's Tchaikovsky concerto). It is a fine performance and accorded a far better recording than the Boult Tapiola on Omega Classics. There are numerous fresh and expressive details usually registered in the woodwind. This leaves me wishing that Hannikaiinen had recorded the complete cycle. The experience is slightly troubled by a grumbling bass beat during some the louder passages. The final storm is built with such supernal control. One of the freshest Tapilas ever.

Warmly recommended and by no means just for 'oldies' with a retro-sixties fixation. Vintage Tchaikovsky and Sibelius!


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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