Boris Gutnikov / Annette Servadei / Constantin Ivanov

Khachaturian: Violin Concerto & Piano Concertos

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Unlike some of his contemporaries, who were derided for their composition of "anti-Soviet" music, Armenian-born Aram Khachaturian was much lauded for capturing the spirit of the Soviet people. Both the violin and piano concertos (heard on this disc) stem from the 1930s, when Khachaturian was still very much at the beginning of his career. There is nothing immature or underdeveloped about either concerto, however. The violin concerto, dedicated to and premiered by David Oistrakh, is a magnificent whirlwind of powerful emotions and unbridled energy. Likewise, the piano concerto is a non-stop tour de force for both soloist and orchestra. The performance of the violin concerto, heard here with Boris Gutnikov and the USSR Large Symphony Orchestra, is absolutely first-rate. From the first startling, aggressive entrance of the orchestra, listeners will notice the precision and muscularity of this Russian orchestra that delivers intense power in tuttis and surprising restraint and subtlety when the solo violin is playing. Gutnikov's playing is equally equipped to deliver both intensity and refinement, keeping listeners at the edge of their seats from bar one to the conclusion of the concerto. Annette Servadei performs the piano concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. While still a first-rate performance, neither she nor the LPO quite manages to capture the same quintessential Russian sound heard in the Violin Concerto. Still, Servadei's playing is filled brilliant attention to detail, clarity in even the most nimble of passages, and warm affection.

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