This is an interesting
disc of varied music, from a fairly wide time-scale, by the Danish resident
Armenian composer Arshak Ikilikian. His move from his native land to
western Europe is contemporaneous with a shift
from conventional instrumentation to a more electronic (electro-acoustic)
palette of sounds. It is probably worth mentioning that the renowned
antipodean composers Percy Grainger and Douglas Lilburn both had similar
career trajectories - starting in lyrical, folk-imbued idioms and ending
in much more experimental, if still accessible mode.
pieces, the ballet Courageous Nazar and the Piano Concerto, both written in the 1980s, are vigorous, dynamic
works, owing a great deal to the influences of Bartok, Stravinsky and,
unsurprisingly, fellow Armenian Khatchaturian.
They are by turns highly rhythmic and lyrical but are perhaps, in the
final analysis, not original enough to demand a wider audience. The
recording, it has to be said, does not do these pieces any favours,
sounding too much like a radio broadcast to these ears.
Far more impressive
are the electronically enhanced pieces, although even here, with pieces
written in the last five years, the computerised music is sometimes
rather (deliberately) primitive. However, there is a great deal of intelligent,
interesting and listenable material in the three pieces; anyone enamoured
of the recordings of Evelyn Glennie, Colin Currie or the Safri Duo will
love Superpulse; Thomas Sandberg's performance certainly elevates him
into that exalted bracket. Success
is in some ways more traditional, with some haunting interplay between
violin and computerised accompaniment. The basically eastern nature
of the composer's music, so evident in the earlier orchestral pieces,
is re-emphasised here. Crash features, once again, an instrument
that I am particularly fond of and have written about a great deal recently,
in various reviews, the bass clarinet. Once again, Ikilikian puts it
to excellent use, drawing on the primal aspects of its sounds, to round
off the disc in fine style.
Da Capo have
created an excellent showcase for the composer and I have to say that
the recent, more individual works, impressed me far more - they are
much better recorded, for sure, but also say more about Ikilikian as
an individual than the accomplished but ultimately quite derivative
earlier orchestral works. The composer also painted(?)
the rather garish booklet cover illustration but, I am pleased to say
that most of the music on the disc is a great deal more interesting.