ARAM KHACHATURYAN (1903-1978)
Lermontov Suite (1944)
Russian Fantasy (1944)
Ode in Memory of Lenin (1948)
Greeting Overture (1958)
Festive Poem (1950)
rec 28 Oct - 2 Nov 1994, Yerevan, Armenia
ASV CD DCA 966
Tjeknavorian's (and ASV's) devotion to Khachaturyan is to be admired. This
series is best seen as foreshadowing and shadowing the work done on behalf
of Gliere by Downes and Chandos. It is similarly exhaustive and shows some
valour when you consider how apt such projects are to knee-jerk attack because
of the music's association with Soviet realism.
The Lermontov Suite (in four movements) has entwined in its music an almost
cataclysmic sadness but along the way we encounter a Tchaikovskian mazurka
and valse. In the finale the composer reaches for his accustomed facility
in Rimskian celebration. Think in terms of the Russian Easter Festival
Overture and Capriccio Espagnol. The Russian Fantasy
continues the Rimskian accent coloured with moments indebted to the great
waltz from Tchaikovsky's Fifth. The Ode in Memory of Lenin (drawing
on the film music for the life of Lenin) is overhung with black mists and
funereal obsequies. It is oppressive with a sense of national mourning; unbridled
in its clamour and unembarrassed by the uninhibited use of cymbals.
The Greeting Overture is brash and, as we know, Khachaturyan is good
at brash but this time I have to concede that the music is noisily vapid,
re-circulating ideas you are likely to associate with Rozsa's El Cid and
Shostakovich 5. Festive Poem (20 mins) can be taken as his Fourth
Symphony in all but name. Remember that the much-reviled (by Soviet authorities
and, all too readily, by Western commentators) Symphony No. 3 is called
'symphony-poem'. It produces some jollity perhaps reminiscent of the military
review music in Prokofiev's War and Peace, and of Mendelssohn's
Italian and of Rossini overtures. The wily composer could (and did)
still drum up a liquidly lapping theme or two as well as a certain jauntiness
and some broadly strutting trumpet work (13.50) in Iberian style.
Good informative notes by Robert Matthew-Walker. Thankfully they are not
prone to hagiography.
The symphonies in this series are well worth trying out before this collection
but if they leave you wanting more you know where to come.