Not many Piano Concertos have a musical saw as part of the orchestration – Khachaturian’s D-flat example from 1936 does, adding etherealness to the slow movement, here the handiwork of Su-a Lee. The work as a whole, if no masterpiece, is tuneful and primarily colourful, and enjoys a masterly account from Iyad Sughayer, aided with much sympathy and bravura by Andrew Litton and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, excellently recorded by Dave Rowell at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff – piano and orchestra as equal partners – and scrupulously produced by Andrew Keener, October 2021. Sughayer, although lacking nothing in rhythmic panache, also has a delicate touch to give variety to what can be a bombastic work and thereby increase the enjoyment factor; the slow movement, with the saw, is especially attractive.
Also in D-flat is the 1967 Concerto-Rhapsody, which I don’t recall hearing before. It’s rather good! Beginning with a virtuoso cadenza – Sughayer fully up to the demands – the ‘Rhapsody’ part of the title proves apt given the music is unpredictable, somewhat explorative, if leading the listener on in friendly terms, not least with jazzy turns, the orchestra (introduced with a percussion flourish) pushing the stylistic envelope somewhat, although occasional passages remind of his ‘Sabre Dance’ (and also Gershwin). Heard alone, Sughayer offers the Suite from Masquerade, transferred from orchestra to piano by Alexander Dolukhanian, and Sughayer does it proud, some of Khachaturian’s biggest hits (‘Waltz’, ‘Mazurka’, and so on) paraded with shape, flair and relish. BIS-2586 [SACD].