This 1994 Naxos release offers a sampling of Aram Khachaturian's ballet music. Colorful and exciting on the surface, yet banal, predictable, and ultimately shallow, these works are characteristic of Khachaturian's acquiescence to conservative Soviet taste and represent nothing so much as a surrender of personality. The Spartacus Suite No. 4 is full of exotic and martial moods that give a flavor of the ballet's ancient setting and heroic struggle. Even so, this epic score seems as generic and forced as a bad Hollywood soundtrack, especially in its hackneyed fanfares, tiresome climaxes, and overly lush writing for the strings. Khachaturian's incidental music for Lermontov's Masquerade hearkens back to romantic models, ostensibly with an ironic purpose. While the music is inoffensive, it is nonetheless as faceless as any pastiche must be. "Circus," a gaudy suite without a trace of inspiration or even one memorable melody, is the program's low point. The St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, led by André Anichanov, performs the first three selections with vigor and sincere involvement, yet that is not enough to make these works captivating. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dmitry Yablonsky, gives Khachaturian's innocuous Dance Suite an effective reading, oddly making this slight student work the most interesting item on the disc.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Spartacus Suite, for orchestra No. 4|
|Masquerada, suite from the incidental music for orchestra (or piano)|
|Dance Suite for orchestra|