The Seasons - ballet * rec 1929
Symphony No. 7 ** rec 1950
** Soviet State Radio SO/Nikolai Golovanov
PEARL GEMM CD 9404
Pearl make us their debtor by reissuing the 78s of the composer conducting
his most celebrated ballet.
The Seasons could not have been written without the great example of Tchaikovsky.
The acoustic recording well catches the dripping glassy icicles of winter,
its tenpestuous gales, oven-dried steppes, buffeting winds, green-sward waltzes
and the dry leaf-drifts of Autumn. Unarguably things are not helped by the
ancient sound but this has more body and lively punch than you might expect
and is by no means a trial to enjoy. Still it reminds us of the wondrous
performance captured by Konstantin Ivanov with the USSRSO on a late 1960s
The symphony is dubbed Pastoral and the similarities with Beethoven are obvious
from the echoey woodland birdsong of the opening movement. Beethoven must
have been an obsession because Glazunov used fate motif elsewhere. The middle
movement does attain the heights Glazunov cherished for it although the strings
work up a notable swoon. The scherzo lives up to Glazunov's envied reputation
for quick music and here Golovanov applies the pedal to dashing effect making
this the most driven performance I have heard. A contrast with the sedate
approach adopted by Polyansky in his incomplete cycle and by Anisimov onNaxos.
This carries over into the portentous and pell-mell pyrotechnics of the finale.
The work does not have the memorable material of symphonies 4-6 but it is
well worth getting to know. Golovanov does the work enthusing justice - no
apologist he! The sound is 20 years younger than the Seasons but is not
dramatically better - presumably captured from an original Melodiya issue
LP. The strings sound gravelly when great volume is required of them. Unrefined
but the Slav warble to the horns is very acceptable.
Neither work can be recommended as an only recording in a collection. They
will be cherished by Glazunov enthusiasts - a much bigger band than once
was the case. They show Glazunov to be a fine interpreter of his Seasons
and Golovanov as a headstrong muscly advocate for the symphony.
Now how about it Pearl - the Ivanov 5 and Seasons?