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Russian Roots Romp
on 12 May 2010
Of the best known 20th Century composers, Khachaturian is the only one where you can easily trace his music back to the robust, passionate, soaring and heart tugging musical dramas of his Russian forebears - Tchaikvsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin and, ultimately, Glinka.
Prokofiev is busy and clever. Shostakovich's music, described by one as 'gun metal grey', has its 'Russian' moments - probably after an order, in triplicate, from some apparatchik - but is largely 'modern' and devoid of a distinctive Russian musical heritage, and Rachmaninoff is, well, mostly very strident. It is in Khachaturian's music that you feel the unbridled passion, racing, swirling melodies and reflective moods of the great 19th Century Russian composers. In the hands of Loris Tjeknavorian and the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Khachaturian's musical dramas are vibrantly realised - from the 'Sabre Dance' rattling along at a hundred miles an hour, through delightfully catchy dances to the emotional pinnacle, his best known work, the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia. If that's not enough, you also get the bonus of Ippolitov-Ivanov's 'Caucasian Sketches', which include an immediately recognizable piece - the rousing 'Procession of the Sardar'.
If you want 20th Century Russian music steeped in the unrestrained passions and melodies of the great Russian composers of yore this disc will not disappoint you.