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Khachaturian: Piano Concerto; Concerto Rhapsody etc

Iyad Sughayer (piano); BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Andrew Litton (BIS)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piano Concerto; Masquerade Suite; Concerto-Rhapsody
Iyad Sughayer (piano); BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Andrew Litton
BIS BIS-2586 (CD/SACD)   75:35 mins


According to the putative Shostakovich of Testimony, Rostropovich diplomatically told Khachaturian that his Concerto-Rhapsody for cello and orchestra was a golden work with silver parts that needed gilding. Much of the equivalent work for piano sounds fairly leaden to me, with a silver opening toccata solo and scherzo. Praise be to Jordanian-Palestinian pianist Iyad Sughayer, Andrew Litton conducting a BBC National Orchestra of Wales on top form and the conductor’s regular producer Andrew Keener for keeping it all as clean and clear as possible.

The same goes for this performance of the better-known Piano Concerto, more of a bronze work. The listener’s interest is held through sequences that have previously felt turgid to me, and there’s a real bonus in the slow movement. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear a flailing flexatone doubling the melody – on a Svetlanov recording, there’s no alternative – but apparently Khachaturian originally intended a musical saw. And that’s what we get, consummately vocal in the hands of Scottish Chamber Orchestra violinist and powerhouse Su-a Lee. In between the heftier works, we have glimpses of what Khachaturian surely always did best – dance and incidental music. The most familiar number from his 1941 score to a production of Lermontov’s Masquerade is the waltz, up there with the best of Prokofiev’s. Sughayer makes effortless work of all the numbers, and while you feel he might let rip a little more in the ‘Galop’, with its naughty semitonal galops, restraint is a virtue in the works with orchestra.


David Nice