The Strad Recommends

May 23rd, 2012
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An Armenian cellist explores his musical heritage.

Alexander Chaushian is on sparkling form of this highly enterprising and beautifully recorded CD, Khachaturian’s rarely heard. Concerto-Rhapsody is performed with tremendous conviction, but although this technical tour de force, originally written for Rostropovich, boasts some vintage melodic moments, the score is rather empty, with too much note-spinning. The darker hues of the Monograph for cello and orchestra by Suren Zakarian are far more convincing musically and receive an intensely imaginative performance from Chaushian. Inspired by the concept of the soul in conflict, the work deploys the cello in a high register with shimmering gentle clusters in the orchestral accompaniment. The emotional fervor increases with the cello incanting urgently before ebbing away in a a lighter vein.

 A similar use of harmonic clusters colours Vache Sharafyan’s suite, which with its ingenious allusions to the harmonic patterns and dance forms of the Baroque travels through a kaleidoscope of indecent timbres. Chaushian is again totally immersed in the vernacular and gives a searingly eloquent rendition. Equally enthralling is Sharafyan’s arrangement of Komitas’s Krunk (Crane) for duduk, piano and cello. As in the Suite, tonally conventional elements co-exist with the oscillating pitches and clusters of Sharafyan’s harmonic language to magical effect.

JOANNE TALBOT  

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