Melbourne: A Sterling Exhibition Of Drama – Suren Bagratuni & Timoth

A Sterling Exhibition Of Drama
by Clive O’connell Reviewer

The Age (Melbourne)
June 15, 2004 Tuesday

Music review: SUREN BAGRATUNI & TIMOTHY YOUNG, Australian National
Academy of Music, June 10

Armenian-born cellist Suren Bagratuni is the most recent in the
series of the National Academy’s visiting artists, that prolific
source of education for talented young Australian musicians on the
cusp of their careers.

Bagratuni presented a particularly expansive program, working
backwards from a piece by one of his compatriots, Adam Khudoyan, to
the best-known cello sonata in the repertoire: Beethoven No. 3 in A
major. As a tour of masterworks, it was slanted towards modern times,
also taking in the Shostakovich and Debussy sonatas. All four together
is a concentrated night’s work.

The Beethoven work is loaded with problems of balance, including
passages that feature strong detailed work for the piano under which
the cello broods over the melodies. Timothy Young kept his contribution
in the foreground, rarely diminishing his piano’s volume for the sake
of Bagratuni but the outcome made for a benign interpretation rather
than the sparks that other duos bring to the work. The cellist observed
a wide range of dynamics with the accent on moulding lines and there
were several unusual and felicitous pauses and contrasts of attack.

Young was hard-pressed in this work’s finale which holds some
improbably demanding leaps and scale passages but you rarely got
the feeling that he was making heavy weather of them; any blips
occurred in slower sections. He also faced an equally daunting trial
in the fourth movement of the Shostakovich sonata which exercises the
accompanist mercilessly while the solo observes the struggle from a
distance. Nevertheless, Bagratuni produced a soaring account of this
work’s two central sections, an imposing successor to the Khudoyan work
for solo cello – a showpiece and both motivically and atmospherically
suggestive of the one Armenian composer everybody knows: Khatchaturian.

However, the most engrossing moments of this recital came in the last
two-thirds of the Debussy sonata, its leaps and darts excellently
carried off by both musicians in a sterling exhibition of light touch
and rapid note negotiation. To their high credit, both performers
maintained the finale’s underpinning drama and vehemence, qualities
that make the final bars both a joy and a relief.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress