Symphony No.2, ‘The Bell’ (etc.) by Aram Khachaturian (Loris Tjeknavorian/Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra)

Khachaturian is not noted as a great symphonist, and some find much of his output bombastic and trite. Yet after the release of the Third Symphony, Khachaturian was included in Khrennikov’s infamous denunciation of ‘formalist’ composers, which put him in extremely good company – so his work must have been good enough to concern the Soviet authorities. The Second Symphony is certainly dramatic, with a shattering bell motif. But for me, the stand-out piece on this disc is the totally over-the-top music from the film ‘The Battle of Stalingrad’ – once heard, never forgotten, and in the right time and place it is as good a piece as you could ask for.

Packaging notes: the CD booklet’s essay appears to have been prepared for a boxed set of the Tjeknavorian Khachaturian recordings, as it references all three symphonies and other orchestral music. The cover design is one of these “let’s pretend that Cyrillic characters are the letters they look like in the Roman alphabet” ones, which are REALLY IRRITATING if you read Cyrillic – and this one’s especially poor.

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