All companies need a Khachaturian ballet
compilation. This one started out as
a full price entry in the Collins Classics
stable but can now be had at bargain
price from Regis not long after its
issue in the 1990s. The recording quality
is staggeringly realistic; you will
not be disappointed. As for Simonov
he is an impulsive magician 'pushing
the envelope' in some cases. At others
he finds the just tempo - unhurried
in the Lullaby from Gayaneh
(tr. 3). The same ballet's Dance
of the Rose Maidens shows how much
Khachaturian owed to Balakirev and Rimsky-Korsakov.
bloom rate for the Adagio of Spartacus
and Phrygia is expansively unrushed.
This is extremely languid, more so than
we find with the composer's own now
deleted version on BMG Melodiya.
This is perhaps evidence of Simonov's
experience as ballet conductor at the
Bolshoi. It might just be too much of
a good thing but Simonov's smoking spontaneity
has the climactic statement in flames
in seconds at 7:03 and the RPO's trumpets
peachy vibrato is fleshily rich. It
is a superbly built moment even though,
like his countryman Yuri Ahronovitch,
he may have made you impatient during
the steady build. Much the same applies
to Ayesha's Dance from Gayaneh.
In his full version
of Gayaneh on RCA-BMG 82876 65836
2 Tjeknavorian accents more of the 'tick'
in the clock-beat of the Dance of
the Maidens. Even so this is sleepy
magic with succulent wind solos. Simonov
consciously or otherwise brings out
the parallels with Ravel's Bolero.
No one has brought
out the excitement of the thunderous
Crotalum Dance (Spartacus)
at its apex as well as Simonov at 2:34
Gopak from Gayaneh
is brash with tambourine and oompah
brass, tramping fortes and thunder-precise
convulsive bass drum. That overwhelming
kitsch returns for the Waltz from
Masquerade and is there from
the outset in the Sabre Dance from
Gayaneh (tr. 1) and in the Lesghinka
The three movements
from the incidental music to the Lermontov
play Masquerade include a sleepy
Romance with a fruitily carnal
vibrato from RPO principal trumpet and
in the Nocturne a hoarsely 'breathy'
Campoli-style violin solo with orchestra.
Classic 'plums' from
the Khachaturian ballets - all gloriously
non-PC. Simonov delights in extremes
of speed often taking the music shockingly
slowly and then letting fly with a high
octane rush. Now you know. Not routine
music-making. Doesn't always work but
when it does ... watch out.