Classical Reissue Reviews

KARA KARAYEV: Seven Beauties & In the Path of Thunder ballet suites – Moscow Radio Sym. – Delos

Interesting scores somewhat similar to Khachaturian ballet music.

Published on September 27, 2011

KARA KARAYEV: Seven Beauties & In the Path of Thunder ballet suites – Moscow Radio Sym. – Delos

KARA KARAYEV: Seven Beauties ballet suite; In the Path of Thunder ballet suite – Moscow Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra/Rauf Abdullayev – Delos Russian Disc DRD 2009, 72:34 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

There’s been changes at the Delos label. No more new SACDs and no longer the Dolby Surround CD series put out by the late John Eargle.  Founder Amelia Haygood also passed away, and the few releases are primarily recycled Russian recordings of some time ago. This one was originally released on Russian Disc in 1993. The label has moved from Hollywood (as listed in Wikipedia) to Sonoma, CA.

Nevertheless these ballet scores will interest anyone partial to the ballet music of Khachaturian, although Karayev is of Azerbaijan origin rather than Armenian.  The scores still have that interesting exotic folk modality of the general region, although the notes point mainly to Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev for symphonic development. Karayev lived until 1982 and studied composition with Shostakovich. He wrote a variety of music, including three symphonies, two string quartets and 20 film scores.  He was adept at combining some of the chromaticism of Prokofiev with his Azerbaijan folk themes.

The plot of Seven Beauties deals with a conflict between an oppressed people and their corrupt rulers.  The Seven Beauties are portraits in the castle of the oppressor which mysteriously come to life now and again. Seven Artisans are also an important part of the convoluted plot. Eleven movements from the ballet constitute the suite. The second suite has only six movements, but one is ten minutes long. The scenario is based interestingly on a South African novel about a doomed love affair between a black man and a white woman. Here Karayev turned to folk music of black South Africa; there is a strong ostinato bass using a folk march.

—John Sunier

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