Notes and Editorial Reviews
Born in 1903, Aram Khachaturian became the most significant twentieth-century musical figure in the then Soviet Republic of Armenia. Many of his most important works date from the first half of his career. The expressive immediacy of his music, conditioned by his Armenian heritage with its sensuous melodic writing, its vibrant orchestration and rhythmic drive – all resulted in a popularity equalled by few composers of his generation. Although he is primarily associated with large orchestral scores – including the ballets Gayaneh and Spartacus, perennial favourites with concert audiences – he also left a number of works for piano solo. For his debut disc, the Jordanian-Palestinian pianist Iyad Sughayer has put together a recital spanning from the ample and demanding Sonata to the delightful Children’s Album, consisting of ten miniatures, in turn playful and poignant. The recital closes with a piece which did a great deal to establish Khachaturian’s name near the outset of his international career. Composed in 1932 (allegedly in a single evening), the Toccata in E flat minor soon established itself among the showpieces of the modern repertoire and was to become a calling-card for aspiring virtuosi. Iyad Sughayer was born in 1993 in Amman, where he received his early training. At the age of 13, Iyad moved from Jordan to study at the Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, UK.
Much of the music in this recital is both technically and musically challenging, yet Sughayer sounds entirely at one with its impassioned eloquence, scorching intensity and coruscating musical patterning. He captures the music’s essence with such a close sense of recreative identity that it feels on occasion as though he could be composing it as he goes along. An outstanding debut.
– BBC Music Magazine
This disc is unreservedly recommended to lovers of magnificent pianism and outstanding recorded fidelity. The style, technique and taste of the performer and the sonics in both formats (unquestionably helped along by the remarkable acoustics of the Stoller Hall) will amply reward the curious, more than the attractions of Aram Khatchaturian’s defiantly uneven piano music. Having said that, while I have no doubt whatsoever that Iyad Sughayer will in time make far more important recordings than this, I applaud his imagination and sense of adventure in kicking off his career with Khachaturian as opposed to more tried and tested repertoire. BIS appear to have unearthed another piano-playing diamond.
– MusicWeb International