HIDEKO UDAGAWA has performed extensively throughout the world and captivates international audiences with her artistry and enthusiasm. Critics have acclaimed her performances, commending her passionate commitment, dazzling agility and refinement of taste. As a protégée of Nathan Milstein, she has inherited the great Russian romantic tradition of violin playing.
RCA put a major push behind Armenian conductor Loris Tjeknavorian in the 1970s and '80s, and this two-disc set, Khachaturian: Gayne (Complete Ballet), restores to the active catalog a highly desirable recording at a price that is entirely reasonable. When it first appeared in 1976, Tjeknavorian's Gayne (Gayane), made with the National Symphony Orchestra, was a mite controversial in that it was marketed as "complete"; Khachaturian fanatics had long sought a complete Gayne, as the suites Khachaturian had prepared from the ballet were common on recordings, but not the work as a whole.
The contemporary Armenian symphonic music is almost entirely monopolized by Aram Khachaturian. This CD brings forward a number of hitherto unknown composers. I was particularly delighted to see among them Gregory Yeghiazarian, an exceptionally talented composer and a brilliant orchestrator. My only regret is that the CD does contain any pieces by Avet Terterian, probably the only contemporary Armenian composer who does not belong to Khachaturian's 'school'. By Arman Akopian
When the majority of flute concertos are lightweight, it is not surprising that leading flautists are keen to expand the repertory, adapting more ambitious works. That is how, on the suggestion of the composer himself, Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1968 came to prepare a brilliant transcription of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto recorded here by Emmanuel Pahud. A soft-grained flute could hardly cut through orchestral textures in the concert-hall in the way a violin can, but on disc careful balancing without focusing on the solo instrument too aggressively has produced a successful result.
Symphony No. 2 "The Bell" is a 1993 ASV recording starring the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Loris Tjeknavorian. Robert Mathew-Walker has written the music notes. One can definitely hear the influences from Stravinsky. The pace is right on the mark and one feels that Tjeknavorian understands Khachaturian's music. A very recording indeed.
Spartacus has all the color and brash, brazen energy of Gayaneh, and is molded in the same, folk-like, flowing idiom but doesn't always steer clear of banality. Still there are lots of memorably ideas and exciting twists and turns, culminating, perhaps, in the famous Adagio with its poignant tune. Yet the ballet - at least the three suites here (I haven't honestly heard more) - is inventive enough and sufficiently imaginatively scored to keep one's attention throughout.
Sometimes there is a perfect match between repertoire, conductor, and orchestra: this album is one such example. Featuring the music from two ballets by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, it is very accessible to those who claim they do not like classical music, as its 20th century tonalities and film score-like qualities completely draw the listener in. The first track is dramatic and grand, worthy of a gladiator like Spartacus, and it leads into an adagio that is ethereal with cellos and harps.