> IKILIKIAN The Courageous Nazar etc 8.224181[RB]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Arshak IKILIKIAN (b. 1948)

The Courageous Nazar - ballet in one act (1981)
Piano Concerto (1986)
Superpulse for percussion and computer (1999)
Success for violin and computer (1998)
Crash for clarinet, bass clarinet and computer (1999)
Nairy Grigorian (piano)
Armenian National Radio SO/Gevork Muradian
Thomas Sandberg (percussion)
Birgitte Bærentzen Pihl (violin)
Fritz Berthelsen (clarinets)
rec Yerevan, 1987 (orch); Aarhus, 2 Nov, 16-17 Dec 1999
DACAPO 8.224181 [70.26]

Ikilikian is an Armenian composer who has lived in Denmark since 1992. Clearly he has risen to the middle front ranks to have come to the attention of Da capo. He has written more than 250 works including two symphonies, seven symphonic novellas and much else.

The Armenian National RSO are featured in the first two works listed. The Nazar ballet recalls a modernist take on Prokofiev's For the Love of Three Oranges. There is something splendid, dissolute, exotic and acrimonious about this. Gestures spit and slalom across the screen. This compares with the 'pocket' Concerto for piano and string orchestra. It is under 13 minutes long - a sterner work than the ballet taking a route via Schoenberg to Rachmaninov to Nyman - listen to the entrancing stasis of the second movement. Shostakovich puts in a guest appearance in the Golgotha 'jester' finale.

Those 'in the know' with electronic music will not want to miss the three computer-featured works. Superpulse tracks human life through from the distant heart-beat via hisses, alarm clock noises, plinks, plunks, bells, buzzers, cymbals, rattles and marimbas. This is all richly recorded. Success starts as a Schelomo-style violin solo but soon the violin is duetting with the burbling and babbling sounds of the computer. These are well contrived and it is a credit to Ikilikian that the computer's voice seems to emulate the 'oudh' and percussion instruments of North Africa. It is a tribute too that the rhapsodic improvisatory nature of the music remains clear. An extremely attractive piece. The plinks, harpsichord riffs, plunks, synth drum rumbles and snarls of Crash are redeemed by the natural voicing of Berthelsen's clarinets and by the rounded rhapsodic-dramatic flightiness of Ikilikian's grand plan. Towards the end bird noises suggest those recorded for Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus. There are hints here that the composer is writing a series of mood pieces for solo instrument each accompanied by computer - an analogue for Malcolm Arnold's works for solo instrument.

Challenging computer works from Ikilikian's later 'menagerie' and two more conventionally specified works though still tough enough to intrigue.

Rob Barnett

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