Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Requiem (1791)
N Shpiller, S Krassovsky, V Gagarina
Choir and Great SO of All-Union Radio/Nikolai Golovanov
mono rec 1951 restored 2000
Boheme Music

This is Mozart totally unreconstructed and performed with glowering Beethovenian force. The performance is unshakeably convincing. Disconcertingly however the Dies Irae sounds ambiently different (reduced impact and mass) from the soundworld of the irresistible Kyrie. This, thankfully, is a blip.

Shpiller is rollingly secure of bass voice in the Tuba Mirum (partnered by a warbling trombone) by contrast with his colleagues - only two of whom are named - why? In Rex Tremendae one comes to realise how much Berlioz owed to Mozart in his Symphonie Fantastique or is it just Golovanov's way? Typically Golovanov also calls for whisper-quiet singing as at 1.58 of track 4 and for the most refined gradations of volume. Contrast this in the Hostias and Agnus Dei with the Jupiter-like massed joy of the choir. One misjudgement was the engineer's (or producer's?) insistence on cutting off ambient noise between tracks. These steep cliff walls of silence do not help. Far better to contrive a muted background hiss than these unnatural vacuums.

The design is uniform with rest of Boheme's Golovanov series. The designer for this series should take a bow.

This will not rank as anyone's first choice with its astringently inclined historical mono sound. That said, it has character and a sense of capacious scale that may yet surprise those who will want to keep life 'safe' and write off a Soviet performance from this era. In that sense this is a dissidently surprising disc.

Rob Barnett


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