Mahler, Khachaturian, Take One
Here’s something special: Mahler Symphony No. 1 (Hamburg, 1893 version)
Jan Willem de Vriend conducts The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra in a very early version of Mahler’s First Symphony, complete with the later-deleted “Blumine” movement. I have about 20 different recordings of the Mahler 1st, and I probably listen to one of them every two or three weeks. Listening to this 1983 version caused my head to spin around more than once because it’s scored for fewer instruments and is far darker and strident overall. The final version we are well used to is from 1906. I believe Mahler’s revisions were well made, but I really enjoy hearing this early version with its broader strokes. It’s beautifully played and wonderfully recorded.
Aram Khachaturian is well known for his ballet, Gayane, and fhe “Sabre Dance” from that work. In fact, the Sabre Dance became a pop hit in the late 1940’s and remained popular through the 50’s. A big discovery for me is Khatchaturian’s Piano Concerto in D flat (1936). The amazing young Armenian pianist, Nareh Arghamanyan, accompanied by The Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester conducted by Alain Altinoglu, do a powerful reading of the Khachturian Concerto. As a bonus, they also perform one of my favorites, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. I’ve not heard Ms. Arghamanyan before, but I really enjoyed this set. I was surprised to hear what I thought was a theremin in the second movement of the Katchaturian . It’s actually a musical saw! Katchaturian called for the use of a flexatone—an instrument I’d never heard of. The conductor has substituted a musical saw, which (according to some) is what the composer had in mind in the first place.
And for a complete change of pace— Aaron Davis (Piano) and David Piltch (bass) knocked me out with their album, “Take One”. I fire this set up every couple of days to enjoy their deceptively simple sounding music which some would describe as soft jazz. It is soft, it is jazz, but I find this music to be loaded with the kind of stuff I can hang on to. It’s beautifully recorded, and really good to listen to. Take some time to “Take One”.