Great Recordings: Oistrakh and Khachaturian
To say that we are lucky for having a recording with David Oistrakh and Aram Khachaturian performing together is an understatement. But how amazing is it considering that the recording I will be discussing about is Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto. You can feel the Armenian blood, full of vigor in expressive sections, and then all of the sudden a tender sad moment without false outcries appears. David Oistrakh is at his best, without any unnecessary notions of poor taste. Like most composers who know what they are doing, Mr. Khachaturian likes the music to go headstrong, without undue sentimentality.
I love Aram Khachaturian’s music. (Click to Tweet)
The 1st movement’s beautiful slow sections are purely sensitive, with a playful hint as well that is forgotten these days. A child like, naive beauty is so important to uphold, expressing to the world that we are still human with feelings and thoughts of our own. The strong parts in this movement are not barberic. They are truly exquisite. How wonderful it was that Mr. Oistrakh had such a respect for the composer, which is the quintessential part of music making. Aram Khachaturian was an authority figure, with an amazing tendency to give great performers the freedom to express their thoughts through his music. But when there was something to work on, Mr. Khachaturian knew when to step in and give his ideas. Not only did this violin concerto had to express a folk-like dance filled with many emotional peaks, but also incorporating a sense of evasiveness. It was masterfully achieved.
The 2nd movement is performed in a manner of dignity. David Oistrakh does an immense job by not overdoing potentially sentimental parts. He keeps you in the music. The violin part might seem “simple,” but not when you put into context the orchestral part. Mr. Oistrakh is fluid and plays with tempo fluctuations that create a perfect lead in for the orchestral semi outburst in the middle. Then, David goes so intimately inside himself with the next theme. Khachaturian composed a balanced structure for the violin by creating a three “movement” masterpiece within the second movement. There are moments when you will feel like the theme will go back to its stoic beginnings. Not yet though. The third violin theme is the one more collected, even moreso than the beginning of this movement. An outburst from the orchestra had to be done here, like Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto second movement. It just was a natural progression. Amazingly enough, though, this highly expressive dynamic is not forced or in bad taste. Khachaturian creates a diversion, as the movement does not end here. A tender ending finishes this great example of the inner thoughts of a composer through music.
The third movement joyfully errupts from the orchestra of an Armenian like folk music. Happy, jovial, full of life presented to us by David Oistrakh makes me want to dance with them all. Several moments of bringing up the past show up in this movement. These parts are done especially well due to the contrast from the start of this movement. Even the expressive parts are done in a classy manner, without pomp or arrogance. Khachaturian, Oistrakh and the orchestra musicians are there to show respect for this music.
Such a direct performance, with many subtleties, shows the highest level of musicianship. These are not arrogant, pompous people (and they easily could be with their accolades). They are to be respected for having deep love for their profession, and we are lucky to have a recording of such giants working together for the greater good of our world.