Armenian Rhapsody
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Concerto-Rhapsody for cello and orchestra (1963) [25:52]
Suren ZAKARIAN (b.1956)
Monograph for cello and chamber orchestra (1994) [17:16]
Vache SHARAFYAN (b.1966)
Suite for Cello and Orchestra (2009) [22:24] (Mattinata [6:25]; Waltz [5 :01]; Sarabande-Courante [7:10]; Postern die (The Next Day) [3:40])
Soghomon Soghomonyan KOMITAS (1869-1935)
Krunk (Crane) for duduk, cello and piano (arr. Vache Sharafyan) [5:25]
Alexander Chaushian (cello), Emmanuel Hovhannisyan (duduk), Vache Sharafyan (piano)
Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra/Eduard Topchjan
rec. April 2010, Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall, Yerevan, Armenia. DDD
BIS BIS-CD-1948 [71:56] 

This disc presents works by three different composers of Armenian birth or (in the case of Khachaturian) descent.
It opens with Khachaturian’s Concerto-Rhapsody, written for, and first performed by, Mstislav Rostropovich. The rather fine Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra is here conducted by Eduard Topchjan, whilst Alexander Chaushian is the excellent soloist. The result is an impressive work, performed with a tremendous amount of commitment and passion from both orchestra and soloist, in which the broad sweep of the music is well-realised. Chaushian brings a good variety of bow-strokes types and pleasing clarity of articulation to the work; this is especially noticeable in the third section, Allegro vivace.
The second work on the disc, Monograph, by Suren Zakarian, is a rather perturbing piece - deeply depressing, and almost impossible to listen to through to the end. When one reads the notes, one realises why it is so dark a work - “the idea of a soul in internal conflict, with the cello giving voice to an anguished scream, which is overpowered by the orchestra, and is reduced to a searching payer which once more gets silenced by dark depression”. Charming. The soloist is not so convincing in this as in the previous piece - the opening, for example, is slightly marred by inconsistent vibrato direction and position of note-centre.
The ensuing Suite by Vache Sharafyan is altogether more positive - and comes as quite a relief. As the composer writes, it creates “a sense of the perpetual cycle of life and history”. The performances are back up to the very high standard of the initial Khachaturian.
The disc concludes with the rather moving and beautiful Krunk. It’s an arrangement of a late-mediaeval Armenian folk-melody. Sharafyan arranged it from a voice and piano version by the late nineteenth / early twentieth century composer Komitas, for cello, piano, and the haunting traditional Armenian instrument, the duduk. The work brims with poignancy - the original song tells of an exile asking for news of his homeland from a crane. There is a most striking sonority throughout, mainly created through the arresting combination of the cello and duduk, here performed by Emmanuel Hovhannisyan, whilst the composer plays the piano role.
It’s an excellent ending to an unusual, sometimes challenging, and sometimes almost revelatory, disc.
Em Marshall-Luck 

See also review by Byzantion