Khachaturian: Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Khachaturian
WORKS: Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), Arabella Steinbacher (violin); CBSO/Sakari Oramo
Aram Khachaturian’s concertos for cello and violin are nothing if not showpieces, and as such well suited to displaying, or testing, the abilities of these two young German soloists. In the Cello Concerto of 1946, a work of great nervous intensity and little lyrical warmth, Daniel Müller-Schott is neat and nimble in the acres of virtuoso passagework, but somewhat reticent and lacking in variety of colour and dynamics. In the more melodic and colourful Violin Concerto of 1940, Arabella Steinbacher displays equal technical proficiency but a wider expressive range, with a touching gift for simply sung melody. The CBSO and Sakari Oramo provide solid support, with well-projected woodwind solos. The disc has been mastered at an unusually low level. The Cello Concerto was recorded under studio conditions in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, and everything sounds a bit unfocused in the hall’s wide open spaces. The Violin Concerto, recorded by a different team in a concert at the Gasteig in Steinbacher’s native Munich, has a greater sense of presence all round. In an identical programme on Chandos, Raphael Wallfisch brings the Cello Concerto much more vibrantly to life, Lydia Mordkovitch plays the Violin Concerto with a touch more panache, and both recordings are more vivid. In the Violin Concerto specifically, Steinbacher is a match for the even younger Sergey Khachatryan (Naïve) and Mihaela Martin (Naxos), both reviewed in February; but all three yield to Mordkovitch and to Leonid Kogan, whose sensational 1958 Boston recording remains in a class of its own. Anthony Burton