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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-78)
Piano Concerto (1936) [30'28].
Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Op. 26 (1917-21) [27'28].
Dickran Atamian (piano)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz.
Rec Seattle Opera House, 22nd-23rd November 1993. [DDD]
DELOS DE3155 [57'56]
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Dickran Atamian won the Naumberg Competition in 1975. He clearly has no problems whatsoever with any virtuoso challenges the two works on this disc throw at the intrepid performer. However, he is immediately up against formidable competition in the form of Kapell in this very coupling (see LuwdigGoldies LG2002008). Prokofiev Third has itself attracted a stellar roster of pianists (Argerich springs immediately to mind).

The Andante introduction into the first movement of the Prokofiev augurs well, with a well-chosen, fairly brisk Andante. The entrance of the strings gives a clear pointer that all is not as it should be, however - what is often a moment of magic is here matter-of-fact. This description could equally apply to much of this performance. There is a edge-of-the-seat quality to much of this music that simply is not present here, despite much tidy playing. The recording unfortunately aids and abets the general impression. There is an odd, false and spot-lit quality to the sound image which can be distracting.

More care seems evident in the second movement: a peaceful variation contains some of the most successful moments of the Prokofiev ). The finale brings out a cheeky side in Atamian not encountered earlier, but this is certainly not the nail-biting ride it can be, and Atamian fails to get inside the juicier, more overtly Romantic moments. The ending frankly left me untouched.

Aram Khachaturian's Piano Concerto of 1936 was premiered by Lev Oborin in Moscow the year after composition. It has inspired recordings by Kapell (see above), de Larrocha (Double Decca 448 252-2) and Moura Lympany (Dutton). It seems to strike more of a chord with Atamian than the Prokofiev did.

Khachaturian uses a fairly wide variety of harmonies and invokes a number of moods: the playful quasi-orientalism of the woodwind in the first movement is a lovely touch, for example. References to the world of Armenian folk-music abound, integrated into Khachaturian's well-developed sense of fantasy. And it is this fantastical element to which Atamian responds well.

Khachaturian is capable of much beauty: try the delicate opening to the second movement , with its mysterious, throbbing strings and its winding bass clarinet solo. There is a circus-like, playful side to the finale, along with sweeping romantic gestures and dancing rhythms. There are some signs of under-rehearsal, though (the strings sound strained in both first and last movements).

A mixed disc, then, wherein moments of beauty coupled with moments of technical panache do not add up to a convincing musical statement in the case of either the Prokofiev or the Khachaturian.


Colin Clarke


 


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FREE SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

n║1 - A. KHACHATURIAN
Piano Concerto, Allegro maestoso

CDTn║2 - A. KHACHATURIAN
Piano Concerto, Andante con anima
CDTn║3 - A. KHACHATURIAN
Piano Concerto, Allegro brillante
CDTn║4 - S. PROKOFIEV
Piano Concerto No.3 in C Major, Op. 26 Andante; Allegro

CDTn║5 - S. PROKOFIEV
Piano Concerto No.3 in C Major, Op. 26 Andantino
CDTn║6 - S. PROKOFIEV
Piano Concerto No.3 in C Major, Op. 26 Allegro ma non troppo




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