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Khachaturian: Violin Concerto, Masquerade Suite / Amigo, Malikian, Extremadura Symphony Orchestra

Khachaturian / Malikian / Extremadura So / Amigo
Release Date: 06/08/2010 
Label:  Non Profit Music   Catalog #: 812  
Composer:  Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Ara Malikian
Conductor:  Jesus Amigo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Extremadura Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Steteo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


KHACHATURIAN Violin Concerto. Masquerade Ara Malikian (vn); Jesús Amigo, cond; Extremadura SO NON PROFIT (no number) (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 54: 46)

I was asked by our Editor to provide a rebuttal to the review of James Reel in Read more Fanfare 33:2 if I disagreed with his assessment of this disc, as I had expressed a previous liking for an earlier Malikian SACD. Reel calls this release “honorable,” but says it pales in comparison to the recent Julia Fischer on PentaTone. I have not heard that disc so I cannot comment, but I do think my impressions are more positive than his. First a disclaimer: I don’t especially like this Concerto, and consider it rather vapid and insubstantial, though in possession of an undoubted popular appeal. So any recording has to make quite a pitch to impress me, and even the famous Oistrakh doesn’t—there, I’ve said it. If you want to quit reading now, I wouldn’t blame you.

I like Spartacus and I like Gaynah, but that’s about it. But I will admit that this new release, with some of the best Super Audio sound I have heard that links all five speakers, by the passionate Lebanese/Armenian violinist Ara Malikian raises both eyebrows at least partway up. This man presents Khachaturian as is, full frontal and with no apologies, and dares me to dislike what he is doing. Not only does he not cast aspersions on the obvious weaknesses in the score, but he also lives by the axiom “sin and sin boldly,” presenting weaknesses as strengths! Now I still know that the Emperor (composer?) has no clothes, but it is hard not to be drawn in by Malikian’s convictions, phony though they might indeed be. The sheer wantonness of the musical arguments are compensated by the aggressive and persuasive playing by Malikian.

The Masquerade large orchestral suite was premiered only in 1944. It’s a hybrid of some of the composer’s most famous music, and you will recognize the pieces. The Extremadura Symphony plays with a lot of enthusiasm, as good as I have heard in this music.

Perhaps the Fischer would make me change my mind, but I doubt I’ll muster up the energy or enthusiasm to try it. For an obstinate Khachaturian rabble-rouser like me, this one will do just fine.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D minor by Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Ara Malikian (Violin)
Conductor:  Jesus Amigo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Extremadura Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USSR 
Masquerade: Suite by Aram Khachaturian
Conductor:  Jesus Amigo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Extremadura Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USSR 

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