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Khachaturian: Concerto-Rhapsody, Sonata-Monologue; Lyapunov: Violin Concerto / Udagawa

Khachaturian / Udagawa / Buribayev
Release Date: 11/27/2012 
Label:  Signum Classics   Catalog #: 312   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Aram KhachaturianSergei Lyapunov
Performer:  Hideko Udagawa
Conductor:  Alan Buribayev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KHACHATURIAN Concerto-Rhapsody. Sonata-Monologue for Solo Violin. LYAPUNOV Violin Concerto Hideko Udagawa (vn); Alan Buribayev, cond; Royal PO SIGNUM 312 (57:49)

Violinist Hideko Udagawa’s program of Russian works begins with Aram Khachaturian’s Concerto-Rhapsody , written for and associated with violinist Leonid Kogan rather than violinist David Oistrakh. If it doesn’t open with the Read more slam-bang energy of the composer’s earlier Violin Concerto, it possesses some of the same haunting lyricism and makes similar demands on the soloist. A cadenza that sets in just after the soloist’s initial entry, for example, calls for robust chords and lusty cantabile in the lower registers that recall similar challenges in the concerto and in its own first-movement cadenza. In passages like these (the technical rather than the lyrical ones), Udagawa tends not to strike the chords cleanly as well as sonorously, and her later passagework betrays occasional intonation issues, especially in the higher registers, unsettling enough to distract unforgiving listeners. On the other hand, although Malcolm MacDonald’s notes suggest that the work isn’t so redolent of ethnic fragrances as the earlier violin concerto, many listeners should discover a strong kinship between the two works, especially after several hearings. Udagawa proves responsive to those expressive moments. Khachaturian once suggested to Nicolas Slonimsky that in a concerto, chandeliers burn bright but in a rhapsody, they’re dimmer. In those more intimate moments, then, Udagawa seems most successful. Nicolas Koeckert gave a more technically assured reading of the work on Naxos 8.570988 ( Fanfare 33: 1)—he’s more assured in the chords of the opening cadenza, although, difficult as they seem to be, they give him trouble as well. No matter their difficulty, Andrei Korsakov manages to get through them in a stunning performance on Russian Disc 10 010—likely no longer available, sad to say.

Sergei Lyapunov’s Concerto, forthrightly melodic and unashamedly romantic (in 1915 when he wrote it, he might not yet have been made to feel guilty about such unabashed appeal) again serves as a vehicle for Udagawa’s lyrical propensities (in fact, her playing in some of the soaring passages recalls the noble ardor of her teacher, violinist Nathan Milstein); and she plays its brilliant passages with undeniable panache, with Alan Buribayev and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra providing colorful and sympathetic support. Although the notes mention Anton Arensky’s Concerto and Alexander Glazunov’s as similar in their one-movement structures, the concerto also bears a strong similarity to Julius Conus’s. On the whole, Udagawa still experiences trouble holding on to the pitch as she ascends into the upper registers; but she seems much more secure when those flights don’t spring from complex double-stopped passagework (she negotiates most of the cadenza with aplomb). In the last analysis, she gives an appealing account of this rarely heard but highly ingratiating work. Lyapunov revised it in 1921, according to the notes, with the help of a former student of Leopold Auer, Joseph Achron, but the first orchestral performance didn’t take place until 1944, with Julian Sitkovetsky as the soloist. Sitkovetsky, a violinist who can bear comparison with Oistrakh and Kogan, can be heard in perhaps the definitive recording of the work on Artek 0028, with Sergey Gorchakov conducting the USSR State Radio Orchestra in 1948, which all those interested in the concerto should hear.

Khachaturian’s Sonata-Monologue for Solo Violin lasts only about 12 minutes, but it offers the violinist a showcase that fuses reflection and brilliance. Udagawa seems, as does the work itself, to offer both, playing with an assurance and beauty of tone that, once again, suggest Milstein, although it’s hard to imagine how that violinist, one of the most conservative in selecting repertoire, would have sounded in it, with its hypnotic repetitions: Ruminative passages rub shoulders here (comfortably, too) with more patterned violinistic figuration; and, since the short solo meditation doesn’t seem to have much headway entering the standard repertoire, Udagawa’s prepossessing championship should inspire violinists to take a second look at it. The work and her reading, closely recorded, might compensate for shortcomings in her reading of the Concerto-Rhapsody . In fact, it’s possible to give the release a positive recommendation principally on its merits.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Concert-Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra by Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Hideko Udagawa (Violin)
Conductor:  Alan Buribayev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961-1962; USSR 
Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 61 by Sergei Lyapunov
Performer:  Hideko Udagawa (Violin)
Conductor:  Alan Buribayev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915/1921; Russia 
Sonata-monologue for Violin solo by Aram Khachaturian
Performer:  Hideko Udagawa (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; USSR 

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