Kara Karayev Ballet Suites

August 27, 2011


Delos is proud to release an addition to their ever growing catalog of Russian Disc material with Kara Karayev Ballet Suites (DRD 2009). The Penguin Guide which reviews classical music and is over 1200 pages has a total of (0) listings for this composer. Yet he has written three symphonies, two operas, and 20 film scores.

https://sdtom.wordpress.com/?s=karayev.   Having purchased a release of his material from Naxos (8.570720) which included his third symphony, music from a film score “Don Quixote” and a wonder tone poem “Leyla and Mejnun,” I became quite intrigued with his material. There were other recordings but only on LP. Karayev was born in Baku, studied composition with Shostakovich and infused his native Azerbaijani folk music into his works. You’ll hear influences from Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and Debussy among others but of course he has his own voice and the result is very special.


Before we get started there is a small typo in regards to the year he died. The back notes in the jewel case indicate he passed away in 1952. It is really 1982 which the liner notes indicate. If he passed away in 1952 how could he have written In the Path of Thunder in 1958?


Seven Beauties (suite from the ballet) is from 1952 and is based on a story of oppressed people and the corrupt Bakhram and his Vizier. The ballet has four acts and 11 tracks and is a 34 plus minute suite. Like the Nutcracker it is a series of different styles of dances. The “Waltz” immediately recognizes Shostakovich with the brass offering the beginning statement before the waltz tempo opens the ballet. It is a melody that will stay with you after your listen. At over four minutes it is given ample opportunity to develop. The “Adagio” opens with a solo French horn offering the melody. After he finishes the strings show off their romantic side. This is a yearning movement which offers more hope than many adagios. “Dance of Merriment” is a vivacious filled dance. There is a definite influence from Prokofiev and Shostakovich. “Prelude” begins with an air of mystery and intrigue from the lower register of the orchestra. The cat-like clarinet introduces the flute who offers a theme followed by a horn and then strings. The mystery has gone and the movement blossoms a bit. However the percussion ends the movement with a return to the mystery. “Indian Dance” is a very brief one that could have easily been included on their Western Classics (DRD 1603). The percussion is quite effective on this track.”Khorezm Dance” is Turkish and quite mocking while “Slavonic Dance” certainly has a different spin than Dvorak, it is worthy. There is a wonderful catchy melody in “Magrib Dance” which is Spanish in flavor with a bolero tempo, castanets, and that yearning feeling. “The Chinese Dance” is as you would expect a pentatonic style to begin with making no doubt what country it came from with the gong, it ends with mystery. “The most beautiful of all beauties” sounds exactly like the title. An air of romance from the strings coupled with a mysterious feeling. The final track “Procession” is definitely in the style of Shostakovich again with bolero type percussion as the brass is featured.


In The Path of Thunder (1958) was a winner of the Lenin prize in 1967 and dealt with the love between a white women and a black man in South Africa, quite a controversial topic for a Russian composer. The six part suite opens with a “General Dance,” and African tribal dance offering lots of rhythm, a flute and clarinet exchange, then the orchestra. “Dance of the Girls with Guitars” with its Oriental opening of the oboe is a Scheherazade piece. After the opening the rhythm is the key to this track a bolero type as it really has nothing to do with guitars. If there were any this reviewer didn’t hear them. “Night in “Stillevelvd is a romantic piece in the tradition of Debussy or Ravel. “Scene and Duet” also reminds me of Debussy. It offers a lovely romantic track which could very easily be the music for a figure skating dance. Next is a beautiful “Lullaby,” soft and delicate. It concludes with “In The Path of Thunder” which is a tribal offering again.


Conductor Rauf Abdulleyev, also born in Baku, has a nice feel for the music and conducts the Moscow Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra nicely. Marina and Victor Ledin provide excellent information on the complete details of the ballet story.


Track Listing:

Seven Beauties

1… Waltz (4:31)

2… Adagio (5:42)

3… Dance of Merriment (1:47)

4… Prelude (4:12)

5… Indian Dance (0:53)

6… Khorezm Dance (0:50)

7… Slavonic Dance (2:39)

8… Magrib Dance (3:03)

9… Chinese Dance (1:25)

10… The most beautiful of all beauties (4:54)

11… “Procession”

In The Path Of Thunder

12… General Dance (4:08)

13… Dance of the Girls with Guitars (6:15)

14… Night in Stilleveld (5:21)

15… Scene and Duet (10:01)

16… Lullaby (5:48)

17… In the Path of Thunder (6:35)

Total Time is 72:34


One Response to “Kara Karayev Ballet Suites”

  1. Just a Karayev fan Says:

    “The cat-like clarinet introduces the flute…” that’s the start of the Indian dance, not track 5. This was the same error on the old Russian Disc cd. Check out the ballet on Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW3VRlqAr5o At 1:40 is the so-called “prelude”, followed by the indian beauty at 2:58.

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