Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Four Pieces from Spartacus [23:03]
Six Pieces from Gayane [18:20]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2 [17:04]
St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Temirkanov
rec. December 2005 (Khachaturian), December 2010 (Ravel), Great Philharmonic
Hall, St Petersburg, Russia
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD310 [58:26]
The Spartacus suite doesn’t get off
to a great start: the variations of Aegina are stiff and lacking excitement.
Temirkanov’s Adagio pales in comparison to Svetlanov’s
(super-long and sensual) or Tjeknavorian’s (faster, but hyper-passionate).
The Scene and Dance with Crotala mostly goes fine but Temirkanov has
a weird little habit of inserting the tiniest pauses before downbeats-just
tiny enough you notice them half-consciously. It’s a minuscule
irritant, like getting sand in your mouth. Only the final Victory of
Spartacus seems really idiomatic and successful.
In Gayane, the first surprise is that Ayshe’s dance has
been separated from its spooky introduction, the Awakening. I wish it
were here. In the segment that is played here, a part which was very
clearly played on a saxophone in Khachaturian’s own Decca recording
is taken up by a flute. There are numerous cuts to the dance.
Why? At least the Dance of the Rose Maidens goes very well, although
the young Kurds sound a little drowsy.
Then we get Ravel’s second suite from Daphnis et Chloé,
following on directly from the “Sabre Dance”, which seems
odd. It’s a good performance, slightly sleepy maybe and like almost
all performances of the suite it would be better with the choir, but
it’s certainly better than the Khachaturian had been. The St Petersburg
flute player has a few minor issues with the enormous solo, and the
timpanist seems to come and go for no reason during the final dance.
This is a low-level recording so, if for some reason you’ve actually
purchased it, turn up the volume. If you haven’t purchased, don’t.
Given that this is Yuri Temirkanov with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic,
I expected much, much better. I am disappointed.