Spartacus • Gayaneh • Masquerade suites

Aram Ilich Khachaturian

London Weekend Classics 417 062-2


  1. Variation of Aegina and Bacchanal
  2. Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia
  3. Dance of the Gaditanae
  4. Waltz


  5. Nocturne
  6. Mazurka
  7. Romance
  8. Galop


  9. Sabre Dance
  10. Dawn, Ayeshe’s Dance
  11. Dance of the Rose Maidens
  12. Lullaby
  13. Lezghinka

Not many orchestral pieces drive me to a frantic pitch of delirious delight; this album has a couple of the ones that do.

The “Dance of the Gaditanae” is one, starting with utterly pure stateliness, moving to a sultry swaying and then a disdainfully proud posing, finally rushing through mad joyous whirling with guns blazing to end in a thunderous mayhem of brass fanfares and cliffhanger drama that scarcely attempts to hold to a set rhythm…in fact its ending is nearly the opposite of its beginning. A marvelous piece, and I do love this version (although it’s the only one I’ve ever listened to).

“Dawn, Ayeshe’s Dance” is another; in some ways it makes me think of Grieg’s “Anitra’s Dance,” Persianized, but perhaps it’s closer to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sheherezade,” just shifted a little further east. Either way, as well as independently of my comments, this is a robust and gorgeous piece that majestically compels one to dance exotically. And the “Lullaby” from the same score may be bombastically melodramatic as a lullaby but is exquisitely moving and ends with a strikingly bittersweet purity that doesn’t seem to be the likely conclusion after all that pathos.

I don’t recall which piece it was that made me buy this album in the first place, although I suppose it was the “Sabre Dance” from Gayaneh, but I’m delighted to have finally found an entrée to Khachaturian’s works. But I do wish they were published in full-score form for the general public as other composers’ works are, because then I could rejoice in these pieces even more by following along in the score while the recording plays as I do Ravel’s “La Valse,” Debussy’s “La Mer,” Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps,” and others. Dover Publishing, are you reading? Can you help me with this?