KHACHATURIAN:  GAYANEH  Ballet Suite (Dance of the Rose Maidens; Aysha's Dance;  Dance of the Highlanders; Lullaby; Noune's Dance; Armen's Variation;  Gayaneh's Adagio;  Lezghinka; Dance with Tambourines; Sabre Dance.)  SPARTACUS Ballet Suite (Introduction and Dance of the Nymphs; Aegina's Dance; Scene and Dance with Crotalums; Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia; Dance of the Gaditan Maidens and Victory of Spartacus).
Bolshoi Theatre Orch/Evgeny Svetlanov, cond.

LE CHANT DU MONDE RUS 288171 (F) (DDD) TT:  62:56
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KHACHATURIAN:  Spartacus Ballet Suite (Variation of Aegina; Final Bacchanalian Scene; Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia;  Scene & Dance; Dance of the Gladitanian Maidens; the Victory of Spartacus).  Gayaneh Ballet Suite (Gopak; Sabre Dance; Ayesha's Dance; Dance of the Rose-Maidens; Mountaineers' Dance; Lullaby; Dance of the Young Kurds; Armen's Variation; Lezghinka).
Royal Philharmonic Orch/Yuri Temirkanov, cond. 

EMI 47348 (F) (DDD) TT:  51:05
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There are countless recordings of music from these popular Khachaturian ballets, many  at budget price, so there would have to be a good reason to acquire the Svetlanov recording which costs as much as three budget CDs. And that reason is the most dynamic performance I've heard of the familiar "Sabre Dance" from Gayaneh in which the timpanist, with a strong assist from the engineers, brings new excitement to this 2'23" showpiece. Recorded in January 2000 in Moscow Film Studios, the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra here sounds rather understaffed in the string department (unfortunately so in the Spartacus "Adagio").  One wishes for the bigger sound heard on the long out-of-print 1977 Melodiya recording of the same music with the same orchestra conducted by Algis Zhuraitis.   While one-hour plus is not stingy for a CD, surely more music could have been included to justify the premium price.  Perhaps some collectors will wish to have this for the quite remarkable "Sabre Dance."

Yuri Temirkanov's Royal Philharmonic recording has been around for a long time; it was recorded in 1986 and has been in the catalog ever since -- for good reason.  Temirkanov is always sensitive to the exotic nature of these scores, particularly Spartacus, and he brings excitement to the varied colorful dances of both ballets.  His recording is more full-bodied than the Bolshoi CD; no under-staffed orchestra here, and their rich sounds have been superbly captured by EMI's engineers.  The only problem with this premium-priced CD is that it contains less music than the Svetlanov: a mere  51:05. 

R.E.B. (Nov. 2000)