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Khachaturian: Orchestral Suites from Spartacus and Gayane

Khachaturian: Orchestral Suites from Spartacus and Gayane

22 Oct 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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I am delighted that Signum continue to trickle out releases of performances by this fabulous orchestra and its exalted (when sober!) conductor. To my ears, the achievements of this pairing are superior to those of the much vaunted Gergiev and his Kirov/Maryinsky band. There do appear to be difficulties however, as this most unlikely grouping combines Khachaturian recordings from 2005 with the Ravel from 2010, all recorded live in the marvellous acoustic of the St.Petersburg Philharmonie and all 3 works in splendid sound with no discernible difference in sound quality between the 2 recording dates.
The works make uneasy bedfellows, and I can't imagine that there are many who will exclaim with delight "Just the collection I've been waiting for!",but all 3 works are desirable on their own terms.
Suites from Khachaturian ballets are a moveable feast-the composer himself amended the works from performance to performance, and gave others licence to do the same, so numbers appearing with the same titles vary from recording to recording as do the selections for the suites themselves.
Temirkanov repeats the same selections he recorded for EMI with the RPO some years back, which are the shortened versions of most numbers, with usually the " middle eight" cut, and he again omits arguably the one truly inspired number, the Adagio from Gayaneh.
The SPPO are in blisteringly good form -wonderful sinewy Russian strings, plangent rather sour woodwind, and superb rich brass now devoid of all the brass band vibrato that blighted Russian orchestras in the Soviet era. We must not forget the thunderous percussion-the Lezginka from Gayaneh really "rocks" for example.
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I am beginning to wonder if there is a bad recording - or indeed a recording anything less than excellent - out there of these, the two most popular Khachaturian ballet suites. I own and have reviewed a good few in the last month and find myself quite unable to make a firm top choice. All have their merits and that's good news for the collector. This is Russian music through and through and it doesn't matter much if it's one of Khachaturian's own excellent recording (Decca Legends) or those by Anichanov (Naxos), Svetlanov (CfP), Simonov (Tring) and many more.

This is in great sound, despite the odd cough and of course Temirkanov and the St Petersburg Philharmonic are completely at home with the music, even if I find them slightly under-stated in the famous Adagio compared with the composer himself. There is still plenty of buzz and the Lezghinka is especially vibrant and percussive.

The pairing with Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloé" presents a bit of a culture shock and although I would not say that it is played here is the ultimate in Gallic refinement, this is such a fine orchestra it can hardly fail to impress and the climaxes are really sparkling.
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Lovely
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