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
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
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.