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This work was intended "to express the Soviet people's joy and pride in their great and mighty country" on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Revolution. Khachaturian was not alone in writing a bizarrely scored work of would-be Stalinist grandeur after the War (Prokofieff’s Ode to the End of the War written to celebrate the end of World War II being another example): it requires a mighty line-up of forces including 15 trumpets (in addition to the trumpets found in the main orchestral body) and an organ as well as a large orchestra with double the usual complement of woodwind.
The result is one of the most unforgettable openings in all symphonic literature: above a tremolo haze created by softly playing strings and tamtam, a steady buildup of trumpet fanfares opens this work; then follows a manic organ solo which charges up and down its entire range of reed registrations. As respite, there is a typically sultry central section played by strings which foretells the music of Phrygia in Khachaturian’s ballet Spartacus.
Note by Daniel Jaffé
Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Kondrashin Melodiya MEL CD 10 01006