It goes without saying that recording has transformed music from an evanescent art to one which can be readily preserved for the study and enjoyment of future generations. Among its services is the perpetuation of the art of musicians who were barely known in their time outside their own immediate spheres of influence. Golovanov surely was among these. Although he was the dominant force in Russian opera for nearly thirty years, he was summarily purged in 1952 (literally refused admission to his opera house one morning), died the following year and was conveniently forgotten as a political imperative of Soviet rewriting of Russian cultural history. Only recently have his records resurfaced to reveal an extraordinary outsized personality, a visionary galaxies apart from the polished discipline of Mravinsky and others who better towed the party line, both politically and aesthetically, and whose art has been touted as representing the Soviet ideal. Over half this set is devoted to five Liszt tone poems from Golovanov's pioneering set. While in most other hands they can seem ploddingly empty bombast, here they spring to life as tantalizingly fresh. Much the same can be said of the otherwise instantly forgettable Glazunov symphony. But the most sensational surprise is a staggeringly intense , the tiresome old warhorse which Golovanov gooses to life with a wild, uninhibited, over-the-top, electrifying account (although, for purposes of political correctness, the climactic quotation from “God Save the Czar” is replaced by a fragment of Glinka). Other proof of Golovanov's unique talent is on a dozen Arkadia CDs that include his magnificent Scriabin symphonies, more Liszt, Wagner excerpts and even Grieg lyric pieces, all of which he brilliantly transforms with ecstatic fervor.


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