Haik Kazazyan plays Khachaturian's Violin Concerto

Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto (Violin: Haik Kazazyan)

Armenian violinist Haik Kazazyan plays Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor at Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, 6th of June 2008 (Aram Khachaturian 100th Anniversary Concert). Moscow State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pavel Kogan, the son of the legendary violin virtuoso Leonid Kogan.

The concerto consists of three movements with the following tempo markings:

  1. Allegro con fermezza As with most concertos, the first movement is in sonata form and begins with a brief orchestral introduction, followed by the entrance of the soloist with the initial theme. The solo violin then introduces the lyrical second theme, marked espressivo, with responses from the woodwinds. A brief cadenza precedes the development section, which prominently features the soloist in several virtuoso passages. A second longer cadenza begins with a quiet duet between the solo violin and clarinet, but soon becomes more animated. The recapitulation of the principal themes leads to a brief coda, based upon the motif of the initial theme.
  2. Andante sostenuto After an introduction featuring the bassoon and clarinet, the soloist enters with the movement’s principal melody. The movement is notable for its variety of moods and the wide-ranging, highly expressive writing for the soloist. Toward the close, the soloist repeats the principal melody, but now played an octave lower, and with a ‘dolce clarinet obbligato. After a dramatic orchestral outburst, the movement reaches its conclusion, as the violin’s final sustained notes are supported by the horn and muted upper strings, along with descending passages in the flute, bassoon, harp and pizzicato lower strings.
  3. Allegro vivace A lively orchestral fanfare sets the stage for the soloist’s introduction of the central theme of the finale, which is based on the second theme from the first movement. The movement is in rondo form but is heavily influenced by Armenian folk music and is reminiscent of a country dance.

Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor was completed in 1940 and dedicated to the Russian violinist David Oistrakh, who premièred the concerto in Moscow on September 16, 1940. Oistrakh advised Khachaturian on the composition of the solo part and also wrote his own cadenza that markedly differs from the one originally composed by Khachaturian. The concerto was initially well received and awarded the Stalin Prize for arts in 1941. The work became a staple of the 20th century violin repertoire, and maintains its popularity into the 21st century.

Violinist Haik Kazazyan has performed as a soloist with many European and Russian orchestras, including the Scottish Royal National Orchestra, Ochestre National de France, Russian National Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic and Moscow Symphony Orchestras, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Dublin National Orchestra, Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra, Katowice Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, as well as the St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Tatarstan, and Samara Symphony Orchestras. He has worked with conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Teodor Currentzis, Andrew Litton, Alexander Liebreich, Alexander Lazarev, Constantine Orbelian, Jonathan Darlington, Ricardo Averbach, Alan Buribayev, Jac van Steen, David Brophy, Pavel Kogan, and Alexander Polianichko. As a chamber musician, Haik Kazazyan has collaborated with many prominent musicians of our generation, including pianists Freddy Kempf, Eliso Virsaladze, Alex Kobrin, Ekaterina Mechetina, and Rem Urasin; violinists Pavel Vernikov, Gordan Nikolitch, and Boris Brovtsyn; and cellists Natalia Gutman, Alexander Bouzlov, Sergey Antonov, and Boris Andrianov.

Kazazyan’s career has taken him to great halls all over the world, including the Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall in New York, the Great, Small, and Rachmaninov Halls of the Moscow Conservatory, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Wigmore Hall in London, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, and the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. His concerts have been broadcast on television and radio programs in Russia and Europe, including the BBC Radio (London), the Kultura television channel in Russia, Brusselles TV, Polskie Radio, and Mezzo. Kazazyan has performed in many festivals, such as the Verbier Festival (Switzerland), Festival International de Musique Sion Valais (Switzerland), Arts Square Festival (St. Petersburg, Russia), Moscow Kremlin and Primavera Classica (Moscow, Russia), and the Tongyeong International Music Festival (South Korea) among others.

Haik Kazazyan began his violin studies at the Sayat-Nova Music School in Yerevan with Levon Zoryan. He continued his education at the Gnessin Music School and the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Eduard Grach, also studying chamber music with Alexander Bonduriansky. From 2006 to 2008, Kazazyan was a student of Itzhak Rashkovsky (violin) and Levon Chilingirian (chamber music) at the Royal College of Music in London. In addition, Kazazyan has played in masterclasses for Shlomo Mintz, Ida Haendel, Pamela Frank and others.

Kazazyan is a laureate of several international competitions, including the XII International Wieniawski Competition (Third Prize and Special Prize for best performance of a Wieniawski Polonaise), the XII International Tchaikovsky Competition (Fourth Prize and three Special Prizes), the 2007 ISANGYUN Competition in South Korea (First Prize and Special Prize for best interpretation of Isang Yun’s piece), and, most recently, the 2011 Enescu International Competition (First Prize). Between the years 1993 and 2000, Kazazyan won awards at numerous competitions in Russia and Europe, including the Grand Prix at the Amadeus-95, Second Prize at the Yampolsky Competition, and the Grand Prix in the New Names Competition (Russia).

Pavel Leonidovich Kogan (Moscow, 6 June 1952) is a Russian violinist and conductor who currently leads the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. His parents are legendary violinists Leonid Kogan and Elizaveta Gilels and his uncle is the inimitable pianist Emil Gilels. Maestro Pavel Kogan’s career has spanned over 40 years and five continents and has led him to becoming one of the most respected and widely known Russian conductors of our time. In 2011 Kogan’s name went into the list of ten greatest conductors of the 20th century, made by an authoritative British classical TV channel. Since 1989 Pavel Kogan has been the Music Director and Chief Conductor of the eminent Moscow State Symphony Orchestra (MSSO), building it into one of Russia’s most widely known and highly acclaimed orchestras.

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