Record Label – Naxos: The #1 independent classical music distributor in the U.S. and Canada; specializing in state-of-the-art physical & digital distribution services, marketing and promotion. Celebrating 25 years in 2012.
With the release of this second CD from Naxos of music for orchestra by Azerbaijani composer Kara Karayev, the current catalog has on offer three full programs of music by this fine composer. The previous Naxos release was of Karayev's Symphony No. 3 and two tone poems; this new release offers his major ballet suites, The Seven Beauties (1953) and The Path of Thunder (1958). There is no reason whatsoever to shy away from this album if you avoid the acrid tonalities of much 20th century music; Karayev's music is very easy to enjoy - saturated with exotic colors it can be hair-raisingly exciting or deliriously beautiful.
Kara Karayev (1918-1982) was born in Azerbaijan, a country on the Caspian Sea bordering Russian, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. The most prominent Azerbaijani composer of the Soviet era, he was among Shostakovich's most esteemed students and wrote in a variety of genres including ballets, operas, chamber music, symphonic poems, cantatas and solo piano music. His conservative leanings kept him in good stead with Russian authorities, and he won the Stalin Prize for music in 1945 and again in 1948.
Karayev's vivid music draws on many influences. Aside from the great Russian composers of the 20th century, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian you can hear a multitude of influences including Ravel from Western Europe (I hear a lot of Ravel's influence in this music) and Kodály from Central Europe. From Karayev's own homeland on the Russian border, Azerbaijan folk melodies and harmonies color the music with their peculiar scalar patterns derived from the orient. Then there are sounds from Turkey, Spain and Africa as well as contemporary genres such as jazz. All of these influences coalesce in Karayev's distinctive, eclectic and engaging music.
This program benefits from magnificent readings by the Royal Philharmonic under the direction Maestro Dmitry Yablonsky and superb sonics from Naxos. You can hear the opening Waltz from The Seven Beauties in the sidebar video and a selection of clips from the CD in the Naxos supplied video below.
Born in Baku, Kara Karayev was one of Dmitry Shostakovich’s most distinguished pupils. Karayev absorbed his teacher’s influence, binding it to his own distinctive use of native Azerbaijani folk melodies and harmonies to produce music in an eclectic range of genres. The Seven Beauties is the first full-length Azerbaijani ballet, and the suite heard here brims with an exotic array of appealing rhythms and melodies.
Gara Abulfaz oghlu Garayev (February 1918 – May 1982), also spelled as Kara Karayev, was a prominent Azerbaijani composer of the Soviet period. Garayev wrote nearly 110 musical pieces, including ballets,operas, symphonic and chamber pieces, solos for piano, cantatas, songs, and marches, and rose to prominence not only in Azerbaijan SSR but also in the rest of the Soviet Union and worldwide.
In 1952, under the direction of the choreograph P. A. Gusev, Garayev’s Seven Beauties ballet was staged at the Azerbaijani Theater of Opera and Ballet. Based on Nizami Ganjavi’s famous poem, Seven Beauties became the first Azerbaijani ballet and opened a new chapter in the history of classical music of Azerbaijan.
Grammy nominated cellist and conductor Dmitry Yablonksy was born in Moscow into a musical family. He began playing the cello when he was 5 years old and was accepted to the Central Music School for gifted children. At the age of 9 he gave his orchestral debut playing Haydn’s cello concerto. In the summer of 1979, at the age 16, Dmitry was accepted to participate in Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont and was the youngest participant. He organizes many festivals all over the world, including Qabala Festival in Azerbaijan and Wandering Stars Festival, which takes place in different countries of the world each year
Founded in 1946 by Sir Thomas Beecham, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has enjoyed more than sixty-five years of success worldwide, giving first-class performances of a wide range of musical repertoire with artists of the highest caliber.
“The strings are highly impressive … the RPO offers muscular brass and first-class woodwinds. The rhythmic intricacies and sharp contrasts in mood and tempi were dextrously handled by Dutoit and the musicians delivered the music with fleet bravura.” – Chicago Classical Review
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