Komi­tas • Ter­t­e­rian

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

Komi­tas: Shoger Jan (Dear Shoger); Ter­t­e­rian: Sym­phonies Nos 3 & 4; Trad: Noo­bar-noo­bar

Ti­gran Alek­sanyan (duduk),

Vahe Ho­vane­sian (duduk, zurna); Bournemout­h Sym­phony Orches­tra/ Kir­ill Kara­bits

Chan­dos CHSA 5241 (hy­brid CD/SACD) 58:56 mins

These two sym­phonies, writ­ten in the mid 1970s by the mod­ernist Ar­me­nian com­poser Avet Rubent Ter­t­e­rian (1929-94), are ex­tra­or­di­nary, of­ten un­com­fort­able creations. The mu­sic, se­verely dis­lo­cated, mostly pro­ceeds in iso­lated strands and ex­treme dy­nam­ics: tim­pani tat­toos, a tolling bell, slith­er­ing brass, tutti shrieks, the faintest harp­si­chord. Lament, de­spair, mock­ery: those are the dom­i­nant emo­tions stirred.

Mu­si­cal in­flu­ences aren’t hard to spot: the an­guished com­po­si­tions of his friend Giya Kancheli; Poland’s ‘sonorists’ of the 1950s and ’60s; the plain­tive con­tours of Ar­me­nian folk mu­sic, in­stru­men­tally spot-lit dur­ing Sym­phony No. 3 by the zurna and duduk wind in­stru­ments (the last also fea­tured in two sep­a­rate im­pro­vi­sa­tions). But the chief shap­ing forces in these des­o­late mo­saics are clearly per­sonal, from the wound­ing death of Ter­t­e­rian’s younger brother Her­man, a con­duc­tor, to the na­tional tragedy of the Ar­me­nian geno­cide fol­low­ing the First World War.

Pair­ing two sym­phonies pre­vi­ously is­sued on disc by ASV in 1997, Kir­ill Kara­bits and his Bournemout­h orches­tra plunge into Ter­t­e­rian’s strange world with to­tal com­mit­ment and vivid in­stru­men­tal colours, sup­ported by the usual en­velop­ing Chan­dos sound. It all helps give thrust and mourn­ful pur­pose to the Third, ded­i­cated to Her­man, but to my ears leaves the more ex­treme Fourth, heard in its orig­i­nal, un­barred ver­sion, too thinly stretched to be plau­si­ble. That shouldn’t stop mu­si­cal voy­agers ex­plor­ing this re­mark­able com­poser; many more sym­phonies are avail­able on­line. Ge­off Brown PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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