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Khachaturian: Piano Sonata; Two Pieces, etc

Iyad Sughayer (piano) (BIS)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piano Sonata; Two Pieces; Children’s Album, Book I; Poem; Sonatina; Toccata
Iyad Sughayer (piano)
BIS BIS-2436 (hybrid CD/SACD)   74:46 mins


The notion that Khachaturian was one of Soviet music’s principal torchbearers simply doesn’t hold up to inspection. He felt ‘crushed, destroyed’ after his Third Symphony was officially hauled over the coals and, like Shostakovich, hid several works away until after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Iyad Sughayer has selected a wide-ranging programme, including some of Khachaturian’s earliest music – the Two Pieces and Poem – composed under the tutelage of Mikhail Gnessin. By the time he composed his popular Toccata in 1932, the intensely Armenian colours and harmonies that litter his piano and violin concertos are already unmistakable. Distilled to their creative essence in the Children’s Album of 1947, by the late 1950s, as witness the Sonatina (1959) and Sonata (1961), Khachaturian had begun experimenting with a less overtly exotic form of neoclassicism.

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. Whether in the sometime touching simplicity of the Children’s Album or volatile outbursts of the Sonata, 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.


Julian Haylock