Author Topic: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)  (Read 20212 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« on: August 27, 2007, 11:04:45 PM »
Don't recall much discussion about this composer here.  I rather like his music, especially the little known Symphony 1 (his graduation piece from the class of Myaskovsky). The Violin and Piano Concerto are much better known but I find myself listening to the symphonies more than these works. Symphony 2 (especially in Jarvi's spectacular recording on Chandos) is an epic wartime score worthy (I think) of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony. I especially like the slow movement's use of the Dies Irea theme.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Saul

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2007, 04:08:50 AM »
He is a good composer. I like his Spartacus music. He was born in Tbilisi Georgia, the same city I was born, and he studied in the same music school my mother studied.

Offline carlos

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2007, 06:55:40 AM »
IMHO, Gayaneh is one of the best ballet music of the last
century. And I love his 3 concerts. The cello one in particular
is magnificent.
Piantale a la leche hermano, que eso arruina el corazón! (from a tango's letter)

johnQpublic

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2007, 08:18:23 AM »
I really do not care for the Symphony No. 1, but I'm "Ga-Ga" over the 3rd; however, as I just mentioned a few hours ago on CMG, get Stokowski's recording with the CSO. All other recordings pale in comparison.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2007, 05:27:16 PM »
I really do not care for the Symphony No. 1, but I'm "Ga-Ga" over the 3rd; however, as I just mentioned a few hours ago on CMG, get Stokowski's recording with the CSO. All other recordings pale in comparison.

So very sorry but I have to say that I think that Khachaturian's 3rd Symphony must be one of the worst symphonies ever written! I gave it another go-admittedly in the ASV Tjeknavorian version rather than the Stokowski-but it really does seem particularly aweful to me! 18 trumpets(in total) and organ ought to appeal to my taste for grandiose music(I love Strauss's Alpine Symphony, for example) but the Khachaturian is the very epitome of empty bombast!

I think that Khachaturian did write some rich, colourful, entertaining music-the second symphony, the violin, piano and cello concertos, the ballets- and the first symphony certainly showed promise. He is certainly more fun to listen to than other Russian 'Ks' like Kabalevsky or Khrennikov(I don't know enough Knipper!) but the choral stuff written to celebrate different aspects of Soviet history is pretty ghastly stuff-in my opinion.

I hate to be critical because I don't like saying anything negative about other people's favourite pieces of music! Sorry!

Offline jurajjak

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2007, 01:03:55 AM »
I've mixed feelings about the Third Symphony--on a gut-level, I love it, though even at 20 minutes it can be a bit repetitive, and the bombast is at times comical (perhaps intentionally?).  Nevertheless, I think it IS genuinely exciting, which is worth something in itself.

I would recommend the short cantata "Ode to Joy," which is very clear-cut but boasts excellent, stirring tunes, and the rarely performed Sonata for Violin and Piano, which is a bit more dissonant than most Khachaturian.  His early Trio, op. 15 is also excellent and tuneful.



Andrew 

Mark

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2007, 01:16:03 AM »
I recently heard his Violin Concerto. It largely failed to impress me. A lot going on, but nothing really 'hooked' me. Probably didn't help that its CD pairings on Julia Fischer's Pentatone disc are the (IMO, more interesting) Prokofiev and Glazunov VCs.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2007, 04:36:20 AM »
I really do not care for the Symphony No. 1, but I'm "Ga-Ga" over the 3rd; however, as I just mentioned a few hours ago on CMG, get Stokowski's recording with the CSO. All other recordings pale in comparison.

I just bought a newly released Melodiya CD of Kondrashin conducting Symphony 3; it is fun with its blaring USSR SO trumpets. I think that I agree with David Fanning who wrote that Khachaturian's Third Symphony has a "ghastly appeal" like those old Red Square type displays given by Soviet gymnasts!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

johnQpublic

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2007, 06:57:17 AM »
I hate to be critical because I don't like saying anything negative about other people's favourite pieces of music! Sorry!

Don't be sorry. I never claimed it a great piece, but, as has been suggested, it's terrific fun. I'm more worried someone would not hear it in its best light with a recording like the ASV.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2007, 01:21:15 PM »
I wish that RCA would issue the original Tjeknavorian recording of Symphony 1 (RCA LP) which is an earlier, and in my view, superior performance to the one on ASV.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

uffeviking

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2007, 05:30:13 PM »
IMHO, Gayaneh is one of the best ballet music of the last
century.


VAI has issued the 1980 performance of Katchaturian's Gayne - that's how they spell it! - performed by the Latvian Opera and Ballet Company at the Bolshoi Theatre. I am not any different then most classical music lovers, have heard the Sabre Dance more than once but never seen it performed. There was my chance!

It's not a star-studded performance, nothing innovative about the choreography, simply your run-of-the-mill classical ballet. The conductor Alexander Viljumanis takes it at a brisk pace, which I thought was too fast, but the dancers managed to keep up with him in that super lively dance without hurting each other swinging and twirling those famous sabres. Enthusiastic open stage applause rewarded the dancers. Costumes are the present day skin-tight and crotch-watch-inviting outfits and the ladies have the usual legs up-to-here. Unfortunately the lighting and camera work was unsatisfactory, but the camera team at least kept the all important feet in view. - I have seen ballet videos where cameras cut  the dancers off at their knees!  ::) -

The bonus selections are almost worth the DVD because there is a large segment of Gayne conducted by Aram Khachaturian in 1964, plus the Adagio of Act II Spartacus with Maya Plisetskaya in 1971. That one was a stunner in more than one way. Plisetskaya is of course super, but I was stunned seeing her partner Maris Liepa. His upper thighs were those of a wrestler, not a ballet dancer, and even Maya's legs were chubby. There is no comparison of the bodies of those two with the lithe artists of the Latvian company who all looked like suffering from bulimia. In almost forty years the preferred shape of dancers has changed that dramatically.

And so has the choreography! In the 1964 Gayne section there are those typical Russian folk dance acrobatic movements almost from beginning to end. We have all seen them on NPR or National Geographic programs. No body suits either, all traditional folk costumes, ladies in full length skirts. So, even if the Latvian ballet is not a prize winner, the VAI edition is an interesting ballet documentary.

« Last Edit: September 18, 2007, 05:32:52 PM by uffeviking »

Offline Sarastro

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2009, 06:15:48 PM »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2009, 06:39:08 PM »
Thanks, Sarastro.  That was quite fun, even if Gergiev really took it too fast.  The second time is interesting seeing how things sort of fall apart at that pace, even if the Vienna musicians give it their all.

Have you heard Gergiev do The Nutcracker, specifically the "Trepak," with the Kirov?  It is the fastest version of that piece I have ever heard.  (I doubt anyone could actually dance to it.)

--Bruce
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Offline Brian

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2009, 06:59:20 PM »
On another note, I am currently reviewing a new Cello Concerto performance for MusicWeb. Had never heard the concerto before - a total delight, very well-written, and even structurally pretty strong. Great clarinet solos in the first movement! The tragedy is that the new recording - Yablonsky on Naxos - is just the fifth (?) stereo release of the Concerto, the only major prior one being Wallfisch on Chandos, which I'll be listening to soon for comparison purposes. How sad it is that such fantastic music - which, incidentally, would be a smash in the concert hall - goes so unnoticed into obscurity.

eyeresist

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2009, 11:12:18 PM »
Glad someone else has discovered this fine work. Who is the Naxos soloist?

I have the 3rd Symphony conducted by Kondrashin. I love the beginning of it  - so loud and strange - but then it goes into "typical Khachaturian" lyrical stuff, which doesn't integrate convincingly (at least from the hearing I've given it). It may well turn out to be a work of genius, if only someone can understand it. I do think more could be done with it. I don't suppose the Stokowski recording is easily purchasable?

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2009, 11:30:53 PM »
I too like the Cello Concerto and have an old Phillips CD of it. Symphony No 1 and 2 are my favourite works by Khachaturian.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2009, 02:04:33 AM »
The tragedy is that the new recording - Yablonsky on Naxos - is just the fifth (?) stereo release of the Concerto,
I think that the real tragedy here is that the work is coupled with the violin concerto which has been done to death and are likely to be represented by multiple recordings, several of them very fine, by people interested in this composer. With several versions by Oistrakh as well as a very fine one by Julia Fischer on my shelves, I'm not exactly aching to fill my limited space with a Naxos version of this.

Offline Brian

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2009, 08:14:44 AM »
I too like the Cello Concerto and have an old Phillips CD of it. Symphony No 1 and 2 are my favourite works by Khachaturian.
Who performs on the old Phillips CD? I've been trying to compile a list of the cello concerto's recordings and didn't find that one.

erato - The coupling is not the Violin Concerto, although the two concerti come together on a Chandos album. The new Naxos Cello Concerto is paired with the Concerto-Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra, which is equally obscure but has been recorded by Rostropovich.

eyeresist - Dmitry Yablonsky is the cellist. :) Maxim Fedotov conducts...

Offline The new erato

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2009, 08:20:49 AM »


erato - The coupling is not the Violin Concerto, although the two concerti come together on a Chandos album. The new Naxos Cello Concerto is paired with the Concerto-Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra, which is equally obscure but has been recorded by Rostropovich.

How could I have mixed that up; I thought I saw that disc a couple of days ago? Sigh - another one for the Wish Lists.

Edit: Here's the reason for the mixup:



Edit 2: And now I see the cello concerto is a download only. As I'm not into downloads, that's why I haven't noted the cello concerto recording and mixed them up. It seems like the wishlist will have to wait.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2009, 08:43:06 AM by erato »

Offline techniquest

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Re: Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2009, 09:08:53 AM »
I'm so pleased that Aram Khachaturian has his own thread here, imvho a most undervalued and neglected composer.
I agree that the earlier Tjeknavorian recording of the 1st symphony is better all-round than the later ASV set, but the ending works better I think in the latter with the frantic bass drum thuds well forward. I also have an ancient vinyl recording on the Russian MK label.
As for the 2nd, the Jarvi recording on Chandos is miles ahead of anyone else (his recording of the Piano Concerto on the same label with Constantine Orbelian as soloist is pretty good too). It is the composers strongest symphony and really deserves to be played more - or even at all!
The 3rd symphony is something of a riot, yes. I find that the BBC Philharmonic recording with Glushchenko (which also contains the first recording of the 'Triumphal Poem') superior to the old Stokowski recording, but both are far better than the very disappointing Tjeknavorian ASV option.The 3rd really ought to be Last Night of the Proms (first half) stuff - noisy, completely OTT fun! After all, you can dance to the last part quite happily!
I have the Regis release of the Cello Concerto and Cello Rhapsody which has Marina Tarasova as the soloist. I hope the new Naxos recording of the Cello Rhapsody and violin concerto is better than their frankly dire recording of the Piano Concerto and Concert Rhapsody.

 

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