KARA KARAYEV - Orchestral Works

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KARA KARAYEV - Orchestral Works - Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - Kirill Karabits (Conductor) - Hybrid SACD - 095115520321 - Released: October 2017 - Chandos CHSA5203

1} The Seven Beauties - Suite for Orchestra
2} Don Quixote - Symphonic Engravings
3} Leyla and Mejnun - Symphonic Poem
4} Lullaby from 'The Path of Thunder' - No. 6 from the Suite from the Ballet

This enchanting new recording from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with conductor Kirill Karabits at the helm, marks the start of a new series of recordings on the Chandos label featuring lesser-known composers from former Soviet Union countries. Very much like the music of Ippolitov-Ivanov, Borodin, Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Khachaturian to name but a handful, the music of Azerbaijani composer Kara Karayev (1918-1982) is colorful and extremely evocative. Despite being influenced by Prokofiev and Shostakovich, who happened to be his teacher during the 1940s, it's the folk music of Azerbaijan that dominates his style. This is music that sounds familiar and yet fresh and new at the same time. It evokes images of tales from the Middle and Far-East, and allows your mind to wander back in time to legends from ancient times.

Not surprising when you consider that The Seven Beauties is based on a twelfth-century Persian poem. Its Adagio movement may not have the same emotional impact as say the famous Adagio from Spartacus by Khachaturian, but it certainly inhabits the same melodic sound world. The same could be said about Don Quixote's Death as it immediately alters your state of mind by drawing you into its descriptive narrative and character. The symphonic poem Leyla and Mejnun is like an Eastern version of Romeo and Juliet with a beautiful love theme at its core and which, of course, ends in a sad and tragic tone. The gently rocking 6/8 cadence of the Lullaby from 'The Path of Thunder' ends everything on a note of peacefulness and serenity. The deft-handed direction of Kirill Karabits well projects the charm and inherent beauty of this music.

There have not been many recordings of Karayev's music in the past, which makes this a welcome addition to the catalogue. I for one can't wait to see what other hitherto overlooked or unknown composers this Chandos series of recordings will reveal for our listening pleasure. Because as we all know, lesser-known does not always equate with inferior, but many times quite the opposite.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2017