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Scoring

2.picc.2.corA.3(I, II=Ebcl, III=bcl).asax.2-4.3.3.1-timp.perc(3):tgl/wdbl/tamb/SD/BD/cyms/glsp/xyl/daira-hp-pft-str

*daira = single-headed round drum of Caucasian origin

Abbreviations (PDF)

Publisher

Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski

Territory
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski for the UK, British Commonwealth (excluding Canada), Republic of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Israel.

Repertoire Note

1.Gathering the Cotton 2.Dance of the Young Kurds 3.Introduction and Dance of the Elder 4.Embroidering Carpets 5.Sabre Dance 6.Gopak

Having himself been born and brought up in Georgia, Khachaturian’s formative musical influence had not been so much Armenian as a trans-Caucasian mix of Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani folk and urban songs and dances. Intending to write an ‘Armenian ballet’, Khachaturian therefore spent much of 1939 in Armenia, the land of his ancestors. The ballet which eventually emerged, after a false start as a work called Happiness, was Gayaneh, including the celebrated Sabre Dance. This was, in fact, a late addition to the ballet; Khachaturian initially regarded this piece initially as something of a joke, and then an embarrassment which overshadowed his other music, including some very fine numbers from that same ballet.

The ballet exists in at least two versions – the 1942 version which contains all the favourite numbers, and the extensively restructured 1957 version – and three official orchestral suites were arranged by the composer. In addition, a number of conductors, including Khachaturian himself, have compiled further collections of numbers, often following a musically rather than dramatically effective sequence.

Suite No.3 is an attractive alternative to Suite No.1, again offering the crowd-pulling Sabre Dance and Dance of the Young Kurds. Like Suite No.2, it offers a mix of Russian and Caucasian numbers, though the latter more assimilated into the Russian national style in approved Moscow Conservatory manner. A notable exception is Embroidering Carpets with its improvisatory-style clarinet solo and spicy woodwind arabesques. In immediate contrast follows the unashamedly populist Russian-style Gopak – splendidly over-the-top fun!

Note by Daniel Jaffé



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