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The earlier Concerto for Violin and Orchestra is more immediate but no less powerful for that. In fact, especially in this dynamic and thoroughly visceral performance by Leonidas Kavakos, it has the ability completely to transfix and transport the listener. Mansurian himself regards it as the final section of a triptych of pieces, preceded by his Cello Concerto and Double Concerto for Violin and Cello: 'the climax of a lyrico-psychological drama'. If you want to discover more, in musicological terms, you'll need to read the accompanying booklet. What I would stress are precisely those emotional and dramatic elements highlighted by the composer. The extended dialogue between soloist and orchestra, interspersed with long solo passages, builds slowly, reaches a frenzied pitch [listen -- CD1 track 3, 16:05-17:29], and subsides again like a musical wave. The effect, like that of stage tragedy, is cathartic; simultaneously draining and uplifting.

It is, at times, a densely written piece of music. Lachrymae, by contrast, is an essentially linear piece using only two instruments: Kim Kashkashian's viola, and the soprano saxophone of Jan Garbarek. Of the four pieces on these discs, this is the one most obviously influenced by Armenian folk music [listen -- CD2 track 1, 4:47-6:04]. The combination of instruments is inspired. As the excellent sleeve notes put it: 'The listener hears two sound-sources of complementary rather than contrasting timbre. Their vibrations relate so strictly to each other that the lamentation seems to issue from a single source ...' It lasts a little over seven minutes and is a perfect example of the maxim: 'Less is more'.

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Copyright © 19 September 2004 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK


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