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In the 1960s, Khachaturian composed a trio of Concerto-Rhapsodies – one for violin, one for cello, and one for piano. The one for violin, dedicated to Leonid Kogan, is perhaps the greatest of these. Its baleful orchestral opening seems to take us to the anguished world of the Second Symphony, yet it is a surprisingly ‘private’-sounding work, both mournful and confessional in tone. Much of the soloist’s music is – as the title suggests – rhapsodic and even quasi-improvisatory in style, balanced by a lively scherzo-style central section (again reminiscent of the Second Symphony) which includes a fragment of the ‘Dies irae’ plainchant; yet the work contains some of the loveliest lyricism Khachaturian wrote in any of his works for solo strings, exceeding even his Violin Concerto, as well as some of his most inventive orchestral writing. Only in the last couple of minutes, after an event-packed 24 minutes, does the soloist finally reach for an unambiguously major-key end, leading the orchestra to a triumphant close.
Note by Daniel Jaffé
Nicolas Koeckert (violin); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/José Serebrier Naxos 8.570988