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Khachaturian: Violin Concerto, Concerto Rhapsody

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 20, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Concerto pour violon en ré mineur - Concerto-Rhapsodie en si bémol mineur / Mihaela Martin, violon - Orchestre Symphonique National d'Ukraine, dir. Theodore Kuchar

Product Details

  • Performer: Miheala Martin
  • Orchestra: National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine
  • Conductor: Theodore Kuchar
  • Composer: Aram Khachaturian
  • Audio CD (January 20, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000W3XPM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,727 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2004
Format: Audio CD
What? Two Khachaturian concerti? Didn't he just write one, the big one in D Minor, the one recorded so beautifully by Oistrakh (its dedicatee) and Kogan? Well, yes. But he also wrote a one-movement folk-inflected Concerto-Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra that lasts almost thirty minutes. And as far as I know they have never been presented on the same CD before. [This Concerto-Rhapsody is not to be confused with the one for cello and orchestra recorded so spectacularly by Mstislav Rostropovich some years ago. There is a third Concerto-Rhapsody for piano and orchestra that I've never heard, although I notice that it, too, is recorded on Naxos and coupled with Khachaturian's once very popular piano concerto.]
There was a time when Khachaturian's violin concerto was played a lot. I suppose it's a bit vulgar and glitzy, but it's a real crowd pleaser that never fails. And I admit I love it. It seems to me I heard it just about every couple of years in concert. But it's been quite a while since I've heard it live. Probably the best-known recording is that by David Oistrakh; he recorded it several times but the one I know and love the first one, from 1944, on Pearl. The sound on that disc is pretty dated. Leonid Kogan made a dynamic version in the 1950s as did Aaron Rosand some year later. Mihaela Martin, a Romanian violinist, takes a somewhat less brash approach to the concerto, especially in the second movement, And she sticks to Khachaturian's own first-movement cadenza, not the flashier one written by Oistrakh. Her orchestral accompaniment by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine under American conductor Theodore Kuchar is first-rate and in sparkling sound.
The Concerto-Rhapsody was written for Leonid Kogan in 1961.
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Well, Khachaturian wrote a bit more
music other than his now famous ballet
(Gayne,Spartacus,etc.).His Violin Concerto
recorded here, is a large scale work,
in the vein of the famous "warhorses" of
the 19th century(Tchaikovsky's Brahms's,Beethoven's).
This work is Khachaturian'only work designated
as a Violin Concerto; however, it was later
arrenged for flute and orchestra. The "so called"
Concerto-Rhapsody recorded here is one of three
compositions with that title, the other two
are for piano and for cello. The Concerto-Rhapsody
for piano and orchestra won the composer a
Stalin Prize. Both works on this recording are loaded
with Armenian and Slavic sounding melodies, at times
both works are nostalgic, meditative and contemplative.
Maestro Kuchar, violinist Martin, and the Ukranians
do a wonderful job, the sound is great too...
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OK, there are analytical and precise requirements that govern the "quality" of classical music and recording thereof. BUT, for me, the beauty of this violin concerto, especially the second movement is A number one. When I die, let them play this, and I'll smile all the way to wherever I am being carried.
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First a disclaimer: I am very much able to curb my enthusiasm for Khachaturian concertante works. The violin concerto is big and bold and painted in somewhat garish pastel colors; no match for the Prokofiev concertos, say, nor even for Kabalevsky. The much later Concerto-Rhapsody is more challenging - subtler and more probing, but quite some distance away from being anywhere in the vicinity of a masterpiece. Martin's approach to the solo part of the concerto is a little heavy-handed as well, though with lots of warmth in the meandering second movement of the concerto -and the same goes for the orchestral part, although Kuchar is able to whip up some appropriate intensity here. Overall, then, this decent but slightly dull playing of a decent but slightly dull work. Martin's and Kuchar's approach works better in the Concerto-Rhapsody, but the end result is not particularly memorable, neither in terms of musical content nor performances. Sound quality is good, however. This is all in all a worthwhile disc, then, although hardly a mandatory acquisition.
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