In Central Asia

The last meeting of the Society focused on the music of Central Asia.  The area includes such countries as Dagestan, Armenia, Georgia and Chechnya.  It has had a troubled history.  There were the Armenian massacres after the Great War and recently there has been fighting in Chechnya.

The music from this area is a little overlooked as attention is normally paid to the big Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov.  Robin Lim’s presentation was a welcome peek into this area and an introduction to some overlooked composers.

The first is a composer not overlooked, namely Borodin and his lovely ‘In Central Asia’ which captures beautifully the expansive nature of the country.  In addition to being a composer, Borodin was a chemist and made contributions to organic chemistry working on aldehydes.

Back in time to an Armenian composer from the 5th century, Stephanos Syunets with a performance of ‘Pharaoh with his Chariots.’

Khachaturian is of course famous and was the first composer to successfully fuse western and Armenian music and to make it accessible to the rest of the world.  He was one of those who suffered during the time of Stalin, his music being deemed ‘unpatriotic’.  One of his pieces Spartacus, featured in the ‘Onedin Line’ older readers may remember.

Alexander Arutiunian is not a name which comes readily to the lips but his allegro from Concertina for Piano and Orchestra composed in 1951 was quite unusual.  We heard a version played by his daughter Narine.

Then on the Georgia to hear David Oistrakh play part of Taktakishvili’s Concerino for violin and small orchestra.

This was followed by pieces by Kancheli, Niyazi, Hajibeyov, Gliere and Amirov.  Names almost unknown outside their countries.

The meeting took place on the day of Charles Aznavour’s sad death in Paris.  Aznavour, originally, Aznavourian, was from Armenia.

Members thanked Robin for his hard work in ferreting out some most unusual items, pieces that are rarely played by composers who do not deserve to be forgotten.  Once again the Society was successful in introducing members to lesser known works.

Peter Curbishley

While you’re here, members might like to see a video I made at a concert in Montpellier, France.  It was probably unique in that the audience sat among the orchestra while it played.  You can see it on YouTube.  There were large numbers of children who despite fidgeting a lot, were quiet and absorbed with what was going on.  They played Elgar amongst other composers and the event was called Au Coeur de l’orchestrePC


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