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Golden Age singers

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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Hideko Udagawa

Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Violin Sonata (1932) [16:08]
Elegy (1925) (transc. V. Mikhailovsky) [3:46]
Dance (1926) [4:10]
Song-Poem (1929) [5:28]
Dance No. 1 (1925) [2:27]
Lullaby from Gayaneh (1942) (transc. V. Mikhailovsky) [3:46]
Nuneh Variation from Gayaneh (1942) (transc. L. Feigin) [1:29]
Nocturne from Masquerade (1940) (transc. composer) [3:35]
Ayesha's Dance from Gayaneh (1942) (transc. J. Heifetz) [3:17]
Dance Egyna from Spartacus (1954) (transc. K. Mostras) [3:46]
Grande Adagio from Spartacus (1954) (transc. V. Mikhailovsky) [7:42]
Sabre Dance from Gayaneh (1942) (transc. J. Heifetz) [3:46]
world premiere recordings
Hideko Udagawa (violin)
Boris Berezovsky (piano)
rec. 5-6 July 2000, Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, USA. DDD
KOCH INTERNATIONAL CLASSICS 3-7571-2 HI [58:21]

 

Udagawa and Berezovsky are familiar names. Each had a gilded career-launch on CD and each then ploughed an independent furrow. It's hardly an uncommon story. Udagawa is a Milstein protégé having studied with him in London for ten years. Berezovsky studied in Moscow with Eliso Virsaladze and with Alexander Satz before winning the 1990 International Tchaikovsky Competition.

In recording these Khachaturian works I am delighted to say that the duo have chosen wisely and well. The disc is built around the Sonata. To this two elements are added - a clutch of original works from the 1920s and a handful of concert lollipops uprooted from the ballets of the 1940s.

The mercurial spontaneity of the two movement Sonata is untouched by the composer's trademark ethnic accent. It is a work of often delicate fantasy which at times sounds positively Hispanic. The violin is constantly in song in the longer second movement - impassioned and ruminative.

The Elegy is part-way between the elusive harmonic world of Debussy and the more soulful heart of Rachmaninov. The active Dance has that Iberian accent and the incipient Armenian ‘sway’ later to prove the litmus test for Khachaturian’s music. The Song-Poem is a work of saturated romance - swooning with nationalism. This would make a fine competition work for young musicians. Dance No. 1 picks up strangely on ragtime.

The Gayaneh Lullaby is one of the composer's loveliest inspirations. If you don't know it you should. Forget the garish Sabre Dance (which, of course, closes the recital); this is the work of a world class creative musician. As if to further prove it he also wrote Ayesha's Dance which presumably inspired Basil Poledouris in his music for the Bacchanale from Conan. The Nuneh Variation is from the same source. It is determined, ruthless even - with linkages with the Violin Concerto of about the same vintage.

The placid song of the Masquerade Nocturne is contrasted with the briskly debonair roundel that is the Dance of Aegyna from Spartacus. The Grand Adagio is also quarried from that 1954 ballet. Udagawa here firmly sustains the great melody. Her bowing control is enviably secure. Would that BMG-RCA would track down the masters for the 1970s complete recording of the ballet by Loris Tjeknavorian

The CD includes some CD-ROM tracks accessible via your PC including a music video and information about Udagawa and Berezovsky.

This disc has too many arrangements of orchestral favourites for my complete liking. That said, the Lullaby and Ayesha's Dance are irresistible. The original works from the 1920s are well worth hearing although I am far from sure an 'Innocent Ear' would identify them as Khachaturian.

Fine playing by both artists and a vigorous and vivid recording.

Rob Barnett



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