Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Cello Concerto in E minor (1964) [36:20]†
Concerto-Rhapsody for Cello in D minor (1963) [26:36]
Marina Tarasova (cello)
Symphony Orchestra of Russia/Veronika Dudarova
rec. Moscow Radio Studio 5, 1994†
ALTO ALC1094[63:22]

In the 1980s Marina Tarasova made a series of Olympia recordings. These tapes continue to assert a place for themselves in the catalogue. In addition to such evergreens as the Davidov (ALC1066), Kabalevsky (ALC1116) and Miaskovsky (ALC1075) volumes we are also treated this month (February 2011) to her Rachmaninov Cello Sonata and companions (Alto ALC1132).

Tarasovaís cello playing has a piercing, stickily resinous and pine-cone fragrant character. This makes this disc of two of Khachaturianís least celebrated concertante works a particular pleasure. Itís never dull.

The Cello Concerto may lack the toe-tapping catchiness of the Violin Concerto and the flexatone exoticism of the Piano Concerto but it makes up for these aspects in vivid engagement and naggingly barbed ideas. Thereís at least one superbly chaffing and chattering idea in the first movement. The middle movement sports a slowly blooming Oriental-style melody. The finale is eager and gleaming-eyed. It references the sinuous middle movement melody. The Concerto was premiered by Lev Knushevitsky in Moscow in October 1946, Alexander Gauk conducting.

Having, during the period 1936-46, written three concertos for the Soviet elite of Oborin, Oistrakh and Knushevitsky Khachaturian turned in the 1950s and 1960s to the so-called Concerto-Rhapsodies. These were for a rising generation that included Kogan and Rostropovich. The cello work is in a single movement but its three episodes are here tracked individually. Ideas of good to middling quality are often spun over the top of an inspirational and tender obbligato. They also feature on occasion with tangily immediate woodwind solos to add pep and lissom contrast. Towards the end of the long final segment the composer turns to his trademark sprint figuration, hoarse fervour and triumphant uproar.

This disc was first issued on Olympia as OCD539 and then as Regis RRC 1094 (review review).

The nicely detailed notes are by James Murray.

Soviet style romance dazzlingly lit by searchlights with tungsten filaments.

Rob Barnett

Soviet style romance dazzlingly lit by searchlights with tungsten filaments.