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Khatchaturian: Spartacus; Gayaneh Highlights

Audio Samples

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts)
>     Introduction - Dance of the Nymphs
>     Adagio of Aegina and Harmodius
>     Variation of Aegina and Bacchanalia
>     Scene and Dance with Crotala
>     Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia
>     Dance of the Gaditanian Maidens
>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts)
>     Dance of Friends
>     Carpet embroidery scene
>     Lezginka
>     Uzundara
>     Dance of the Girls
>     Scene and Dance
>     Aysha and Gayane
>     Aysha's monologue
>     Dance of the mountaineers
>     Sword dance
>     Hopak

Album Summary

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts)
>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts)
Conductor Ensemble
  • >
Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Kirill Karabits is without doubt one of the most exciting conductors of the younger generation. Now principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, his reputation over two seasons has continued to spread around the world and the steady stream of great artists working with him and the BSO is testament to his artistry and huge talent. This CD is the first release in the new partnership between the BSO and ONYX. Khachaturian’s vividly colorful and deliciously tuneful ballet scores have been popular as orchestral showpieces ever since the ballets had their premieres. Kirill has made his own selection from the score, and those who want the famous Adagio from Spartacus and the Sabre Dance from Gayaneh will not be disappointed.

"I remember an HMV 78rpm record arriving in the immediate post-war era containing three dances from Gayaneh, including the celebrated "Sabre Dance", which caused an immediate sensation and straight away becoming a popular classical hit. Around the same time Max Rostal premiered the Violin Concerto (Khachaturian's finest work) in London and I thought a major new Russian composer had arrived. But it was not to be. Much of his music is disappointing. Robert Layton wrote of the Second Symphony: "Its musical value is roughly in reverse proportion to the amount of noise made (and it is a very loud and very long score indeed)". It was obvious from a complete RCA recording of the original score of Gayaneh, by the National Symphony Orchestra under Tjeknavorian, that Gayaneh was his finest extended work. Alas, later the composer rescored its music, not always to advantage. However, Khachaturian came to the West in 1962 and recorded superbly for Decca five items from Gayaneh and four from its successor, Spartacus, with the Vienna Philharmonic. Subsequently the BBC used the spectacularly beautiful "Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia" (truly worthy of Tchaikovsky) as theme music for their TV production of The Onedin Line. But my later visit to a Russian production of Spartacus itself in London revealed that it was very long, its music uneven and its choreography often spectacularly vulgar. All this is a preamble to the present disc, so outstandingly played by the excellent Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits.

He is totally sympathetic to Khachaturian's music and includes most of the best numbers from both ballets, including, from Gayaneh, the "Lezginka", "Dance of the Girls", an engaging "Scene and Dance", the deliciously sinuous pas de deux for "Aysha and Gayaneh" and "Aysha's Monologue".The playing truly catches the eastern Armenian flavour which makes Khachaturian's music so seductive. The selection from Spartacus includes six highlights including the Introduction to Act 2 and "Dance of the Nymphs", the delicate "Adagio of Aegina and Harmodius", the contrasting, sprightly "Variation of Aegenia and Bacchanalia", the "Scene and Dance with Crotala" and a superbly passionate account of the justly famous "Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia". This is now easily the best disc of Khachaturian's ballet music in the catalogue, full of vibrant life and seductive lyricism, and the recording (made this year in the Lighthouse, Poole) is first class in every respect. Not to be missed." -Gramophone

All Music Guide - V. Vasan
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.

Conductor Karabits gets a lush expressiveness from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, teasing out long, sweeping lines in the violins and creating extremes in mood and emotion. Expansive musical moments are indeed expansive, and poignant moments are appropriately lyrical and tender. Some of the tone color is reminiscent of Ravel's orchestral works, and there are strong dynamic contrasts that keep the listener attentive. It does not take a great stretch of the imagination to visualize the dancers playfully leaping in a bacchanal here, posing in an arabesque there, or even Baryshnikov pirouetting and tumbling. In Gayaneh, Khachaturian's interest in folk music is more evident (like Bartók, he drew on folk melodies for inspiration). Khachaturian fans may recognize the tune from the B section of "Sabre Dance" (which actually appears in its entirety later in the album), which is from an Armenian folk melody.

The album concludes with a regal-sounding procession that is indeed a fitting ending, but it surprises the listener by letting loose into a carnivalesque romp that ends rather suddenly, almost unresolved. One could argue that there is an abundance of beauty and emotion in this album -- dare one go so far as to say schmaltz? -- much like in the music of Hollywood films in their golden age of the 1930s and '40s. But sometimes the world needs that abundance, especially when it is played so movingly by a musically sensitive orchestra and conductor.

The Guardian
Karabits is notably good on the contrast between Roman decadence and revolutionary nobility...though Karabits is more interested in love than armies, the one fight scene he includes is electrifying...But it's the hair-raising Lezginka, placed earlier, that leaves you open-mouthed.

The Telegraph
The consistently rewarding feature is the way that Karabits so astutely guides the BSO in terms of colour, rhythm and shapely phrasing, bringing admirable delicacy to these scores as well as the ripeness for which they are renowned.

The Independent on Sunday
Karabits downplays the bodice-ripping elements, seamlessly blending perfumed woodwind and strings. An intelligent reading of music that nevertheless smacks of figure-skating.

Classic FM Magazine
Karabits elicits thrillingly bright tone from the Bournemouth players who take naturally to the off-beat rhythms and joyful, holiday atmosphere of both ballets. The strings are rich-toned in the Dance of the Girls and Aysha Monologue and the wind calls on fine soloists.

Penguin Guide
The performances of these flamboyantly colourful scores are very fresh indeed, and the coupling of The Seasons, with Ansermet conducting, is very good too...The Bournemouth orchestra plays splendidly and the recording (apparently made in the Poole Lighthouse!) is expansive and wide-ranging.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010).



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Works Details

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts) :: Introduction - Dance of the Nymphs
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1950-1954

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts) :: Adagio of Aegina and Harmodius
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1950-1954

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts) :: Variation of Aegina and Bacchanalia
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1950-1954

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts) :: Scene and Dance with Crotala
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1950-1954

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts) :: Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1950-1954

>Khachaturian, Aram : Spartacus (excerpts) :: Dance of the Gaditanian Maidens
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1950-1954

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Dance of Friends
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 57 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Carpet embroidery scene
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Lezginka
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Uzundara
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Dance of the Girls
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Scene and Dance
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Aysha and Gayane
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Aysha's monologue
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Dance of the mountaineers
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Sword dance
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942

>Khachaturian, Aram : Gayaneh (excerpts) :: Hopak
  • Conductor: Kirill Karabits
  • Notes: Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset (07/01/2010/07/02/2010)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1941-1942