Earthy, Vital Performances--but Short Measure
M. C. Passarella | Lawrenceville, GA | 08/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is not at all faint praise to say this performance of the Piano Concerto reminds me very much of Alicia de Larrocha's, one of the finest recordings of the work from the stereo era--maybe the finest. Like DeLarrocha and her conductor Raphael Frubeck de Burgos, Alberto Portugheis and Khachaturian specialist Loris Tjeknavorian pace the work rather broadly, the better to infuse it with the rough-cut, pesante quality that I believe Khachaturian had in mind. In both performances, the piano's first chords are big, brash, detache--and this is pretty much the approach throughout. The broad tempi give maximum emphasis to the exotic melodic contours and coloristic effects of the concerto. Whereas the trumpet solo in the finale is sometimes glossed over, the London Symphony's fine trumpeter is the perfect partner for Portugheis's own solo work. But the high point of the concerto is clearly the slow movement, with its weird, movie-musical solo for the flexatone. This is music that sticks in the mind, even if you initially want to reject it as too easy, too populist. But after all, Khachaturian was a successful Soviet composer because he paid proper homage to the People. On the other hand, he was a successful composer of international stature because he was such a fine craftsman, such a remarkable melodist. And memorable melodies abound in this work.
The recording is big and bold, with some spotlighting of the wind instruments. All those bright colors are clearly in evidence in one of the better efforts from ASV's sound engineers.
Portugheis turns in efficient and attractive performances of Khachaturian's most famous solo piano works, the delicious Sonatina and the precocious Toccata, written during the composer's student days. I'm actually very happy for their inclusion on this disc, but they are both rather short works, so the total time for the disc is a mere 49 minutes. That's pretty short measure for a CD. That's the downside. The upside is considerable, though: first-rate performances, fine sound, a nice price. Over to you.
Lost Piano Concerto
Robert Ehmke | Pahoa, Hawaii | 09/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Years ago I had an 8-track that was supposed to be the Pines of Rome. Instead it was a beautiful piano concerto. I have looked for it for a very long time. Then I heard it again on a PBS radio station and found it's name and composer: Khachaturian's Piano Concerto in D-Flat. This recording is just wonderful and I play it nearly every day.Khachaturian: Piano Concerto in D flat, Sonatina; Toccata"