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Kirill Karabits - Khachaturian

Gramophone February 2011
Editors Choice

'...all this is a preamble to the present disc, so outstandingly played by the excellent Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits.

He is totally sympathetic to Khachaturian's music and includes most of the best numbers from both ballets, including, from Gayaneh the Lezginka, Dance of the Girls, an engaging Scene and Dance , the deliciously sinuous pas de deux for Aysha and Gayaneh and Aysha's Monologue. The playing truly catches the eastern Armenian flavour which makes Khachaturian's music so seductive. The selection from Spartacus includes six highlights including the Introduction to Act 2 and dance of the Nymphs, the delicate Adagio of Aegina and Harmodius, the contrasting, sprightly Variation of Aegina and Bacchanalia, The Scene and Dance Crotala, and a passionate account of the justly famous Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia. This is now easily the best disc of Khachaturian's ballet music in the catalogue, full of vibrant life and seductive lyricism, and the recording (made this year in the Lighthouse, Poole) is first class in every way.
Ivan March

Norfolk Rhapsody (independent music critic blog) 23.01.2011

These are just the sort of recordings scores like Spartacus and Gayaneh need, with vivid orchestral colours and interpretations that are packed with charm, wit and rhythmic bounce. As such they are hugely rewarding....with a glassy clarity in the recording that suits the music well. Any more clarity and it would be spotlit, but the engineers seem to have got this one just right. Ben Hogwood

International Record Review January 2011

Karabits is not that far from the composer himself, in terms of giving the music nobility and downplaying the 'wow' factor. He almost never states the obvious. Onyx's atmospheric, wide - ranging sound does its share to put these performances across as well - none of the comparison recordings comes close....This bodes well for Karabits and the Bournemouth S.O. Next release from them: Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky.

The Independent on Sunday 5.12.2010

Under Marin Alsop the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra raised its game with recordings of Bernstein and Adams. Now its new director, Kirill Karabitis has chosen an impactful selection of music from Khachaturian's ballets for his debut recording, affording a lively workout for the percussionists. Karabits downplays the bodice ripping elements, seamlessly blending perfumed woodwind and strings.....'
Anna Picard

The Daily Telegraph 13.11.2010
Classical CD of the Week

The new ONYX relationship between the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and its principal conductor Kirill Karabits has more nourishing fare in the offing than these extracts from Khachaturian's ballets Spartacus and Gayaneh. Recordings of Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky are due out next year, but in the meantime this Khachaturian disc does showcase the dynamic spirit, the warmth and the sonorous glow that Karabits instils in the BSO's playing......the consistently rewarding feature is the way Karabits so astutely guides the BSO in terms of colour, rhythm and shapely phrasing, bringing admirable delicacy to these scores as well as the ripeness for which they are renowned.

Geoffrey Norris

The Guardian 12.11.2010

Kirill Karabits included extracts from Spartacus and Gayaneh in the unforgettable 2009 Prom that marked the start of his tenure as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's principle conductor, so it seems appropriate that his first disc with the BSO for ONYX should give us an expanded survey of the same territory. The Spartacus highlights , in particular, leave you wanting the complete score. Karabits is notably good on the contrast between Roman decadence and revolutionary nobility. The shy tenderness at the start of the famous adagio for Spartacus and Phrygia speaks volumes when juxtaposed with the full-on erotics of the music for Crassus and Aegina, and though Karabits is more interested in love than armies, the one fight scene he includes is electrifying. The folk-based Gayaneh extracts showcase the BSO's virtuosity. The dances are ordered so Karabits can end, as at the Prom, with the Gopak, the national dance of his native Ukraine. But it's the hair-raising Lezginka, placed earlier, that leaves you open-mouthed.

Tim Ashley 

Classicalsource.com 14.11.2010 

Don’t panic, both the ‘Sabre Dance’ and "The Onedin Line” signature-tune are both present and correct. This generous selection from two of Khachaturian’s ballet-scores, Gayaneh and Spartacus, of roughly 35 minutes each, find the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Kirill Karabits in terrific form as they launch their association with Onyx.

Attractively slinky and languorous from the off, the movements from Spartacus (1956) are particularly beguiling and picturesque, swaying with potency, and leaving no doubt that the story is told through dance, the music engaging and passionate. Come ‘Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia’ (cueing "The Onedin Line” credits), this is brought off with finesse and sensitivity before irrepressibly sweeping to a grand climax.....and clearly he and the Bournemouth Symphony have clearly established a vibrant partnership that serves well both of these colourful and suggestive scores.

Recorded in what often seems the troublesome and over-reverberant location of the Lighthouse, Simon Kiln and Arne Akselberg (engineer) produce a fuller and more-immediate sound than is often the case in this location; there is though some remoteness to certain instruments (violins for instance) and some thickness in fortissimos, but for the most part the sound, like the music, is gorgeous and generously reproduces what seems to have been a good time for the musicians and the conductor.

Colin Anderson