Greetings online world ! After a (partially self-enforced) break, it’s nice to revive this blog and hopefully take it into a somewhat new direction. There won’t be as many concert reviews and travel notes as before but reviews and commentary there will be…..starting with the first “$5 CD review – Spartacus and Gayaneh: Ballet Highlights, Khachaturian conducts the London Symphony Orchestra.
For the collectors and aficionados, yes this is the 1988 EMI Eminence digital remastering of the LP recorded in 1977 a year before the composer’s death. For the pedants, yes, I honestly purchased it for NZ $5 yesterday at Real Groovy Auckland just before they closed early for stocktake.
Khachaturian was known to be happy with this recording and the liner notes record something I was not previously aware of – he spoke to recording engineer John Willan in German most of the time unless there was a technically complicated passage which required the Russian interpreter.
The rewards of a lot of rehearsal time for London concerts and indeed the recording (at Abbey Road Studios) are immediately apparent. Khachaturian’s orchestral colours are dynamic and vibrant and the LSO plays with raw energy contrasted with the sensitivity which are captured in Causcasian rhythms and themes. The highlights include some of the ‘warhorses’ – Sabre Dance, Lezginka, Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia (the Onedin Line theme) and other excerpts from the two ballets. Of personal interest was the “Storm” from Gayaneh which I had not heard previously. It’s a piece that ought to get more air / performance time.
Interestingly, a quick look on Amazon does show a number of good recordings of the same / complete works. I particularly like Loris Tjeknavorian’s recordings with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra. But with the composer himself directing the orchestra, this surely has claim to be one of the definitive recordings of these works. And a no-brainer purchase for only NZD $5. (*****)