Khachaturian: Violin Sonata; Song-Poem

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COMPOSERS: Khachaturian
ALBUM TITLE: Sonatas and Dances
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Song-Poem
PERFORMER: Hideko Udagawa (violin), Boris Berezovsky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3-7571-2
Aram Khachaturian’s skill in writing for the violin, so evident in his 1940 Concerto, was honed in a number of pieces written during his student years. The Sonata of 1932 is shaped like a Bartók rhapsody – slow introduction and quick main movement – and initially sounds quite Bartókian as well. The Song-Poem of 1929 is more obviously influenced by the folk music of the composer’s ancestral Armenia. To these two pieces Hideko Udegawa and Boris Berezovsky add a handful of even earlier miniatures, Khachaturian’s own arrangement of the atmospheric Nocturne with solo violin from his Masquerade Suite, and arrangements by various hands of dances from the ballets Gayaneh and Spartacus, culminating in Heifetz’s transcription of the famous ‘Sabre Dance’. While Berezovsky sounds very much at home in all this, confident and rhythmic, Udegawa seems less comfortable: she is capable of some bewitching sounds in the upper register, but her attempts at high Romantic style lack the last ounce of easy virtuosity, intensity of tone and elegance of phrasing. The recording doesn’t help much, with violin and piano sounding as if in different acoustics. A dizzying CD-ROM video sequence of the ‘Sabre Dance’ hardly adds greatly to the disc’s appeal, which is likely to be confined to diehard Khachaturian fans. Anthony Burton