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Shostakovich: Violin Concertos / Khachatryan, Masur, Et Al


Release Date: 01/30/2007 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 5025   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Sergey Khachatryan
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concertos: No. 1; No. 2 Sergey Khachatryan (vn); Kurt Masur, cond; French Natl O NAÏVE 5025 (70:23)


Sergey Khachatryan, born in 1985 in Armenia, won the Louis Spohr Competition and the Sibelius Competition in 2000, and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2005, as a result of which he now plays on the 1708 Huggin Stradivari. From it, he spins a dark veil in the Nocturne of Shostakovich’s First Concerto, with Masur and the Orchestra providing plenty of shadows in the background and rising Read more to exquisite agony in the climactic sections. But Khachatryan is the singer of the night, with sure command of the moody solo, and he goes further than Oistrakh either could or dared in exploring the movement’s hushed desperation. His reading of the Scherzo equals or exceeds Oistrakh’s raw energy. The violin part, beginning in D? Major, presents the soloist with thorny difficulties; but Khachatryan’s aplomb in belting out the composer’s very personal and bitingly sarcastic humor (earlier criticism didn’t take note of Shostakovich’s insistent musical signature) rather than his considerable reserve of technical ability contributes to the effect he creates. Oistrakh’s impassioned readings of the third movement might have contributed to the impression that the Passacaglia represents the Concerto’s high point. With a concentration of tonal power equal to Oistrakh’s and a palette of instrumental color perhaps even broader (and with the benefit of Masur’s authoritative support), Khachatryan nevertheless doesn’t sound so brooding, although he certainly makes a profound statement in his own right. The prolix but rewarding cadenza doesn’t begin, either, with the sense of menace with which Oistrakh delivered it, although Khachatryan’s double stops flash out like terrifying lightning from the gray background of repeated motives. In the finale, soloist and orchestra conspire to surpass Oistrakh and Mitropoulos in rhythmic zest, decisive in a movement intended as a burlesque.


Why bother to compare this performance to Oistrakh’s after so many generations? Because years ago, reviews mentioned Mullova’s and Perlman’s recordings in the same breath with Oistrakh’s, judging that the one had surpassed the other just as the third had surpassed the second. Oistrakh wound up in last place—although, to my mind, his benchmark still stands, untoppled even by such luminaries as Dmitry Sitkovetsky and Maxim Vengerov (whose recording also drew favorable comparisons with Oistrakh’s). But here’s a recording from a violinist hardly out of his teens that challenges it, and nearly unseats it, exceeding it in the first two movements and the last one too. And, of course, the recorded sound’s superior.


Shostakovich’s Second Violin Concerto, setting out from a dark C? Minor, might seem on first hearing to be exploring the same premises as did the First. But as the music unfolds, it’s clear that the work’s dryer and more bitter; in any case, it hasn’t achieved the surge in popularity that the First Concerto began to enjoy about a generation after its premiere (a critic in the 1960s had once noted that it remained pretty much Oistrakh’s personal preserve). Even the booklet notes by Krzystof Meyer pull their punches, suggesting that Shostakovich’s “creative force” isn’t so apparent in this composition “as in his other works.” Still, Khachatryan, in collaboration with Masur, relieves the first movement of its austerity with occasional tonal opulence and interludes of relaxed meditation. Soloist and orchestra engage, in the second, in an emotionally rich and almost lush, although sometimes somewhat divagating, dialogue and at the end rise to an ecstatic peroration. Meyer charges the finale with falling somewhat below the other two movements in quality; but a listener to Khachatryan (his virtuosity in the cadenza and concluding passages holds sway) and Masur might not suspect it.


Shostakovich’s two violin concertos, as played by the young Khachatryan with understanding support by Masur, appear in a pairing of mature and probing performances, captured in detailed and dynamically widely ranging recorded sound. Urgently recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, Op. 77 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Sergey Khachatryan (Violin)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Date of Recording: 07/2006 
Venue:  Messiaen Hall, Radio France, Paris 
Length: 38 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: This concerto was originally published in 1956 as Op. 99.
Composition written: USSR (1947 - 1955). 
2.
Concerto for Violin no 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Sergey Khachatryan (Violin)
Conductor:  Kurt Masur
Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; USSR 
Date of Recording: 07/2006 
Venue:  Messiaen Hall, Radio France, Paris 
Length: 31 Minutes 47 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77: I. Nocturne: Adagio
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77: II. Scherzo: Allegro non troppo
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77: III. Passacaglia: Andante
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77: IV. Burlesca: Allegro con brio
Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129: I. Moderato
Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129: II. Adagio
Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129: III. Adagio - Allegro

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