Sergey Khachatryan, the soloist, with the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Eduard Topchjan

Armenian National Philharmonic Performs at Carnegie Hall

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NEW YORK — The Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall came to Armenian life on November 15, as hundreds of music lovers crowded into most of its 2,300 seats to see and hear the glorious sounds of the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra. The long-awaited event was presented by Classic Music TV.

This highly acclaimed professional ensemble is currently on a world tour in support of Artsakh. As the hundreds of enthusiastic Armenians filled the hall almost to capacity, and the members of the huge orchestra filled the stage, the anticipation was palpable.

The program in honor of the anniversaries of Aram Khachaturian (120th), and Sergei Rachmaninoff (150th), presented their legendary, timeless and captivating artistry, and was conducted by the celebrated Eduard Topchjan, with the ultra-brilliant violinist Sergey Khachatryan.

Conductor Eduard Topchjan thanks the first violinist of the orchestra

As Topchjan strode onto the stage and shook the first violinist’s hand, a traditional gesture, the crowd erupted in long and deafening applause which he graciously acknowledged.

Excerpts from Khachaturian’s ballet, “Spartacus,” which was composed in 1954 and received the Lenin Prize, were performed, including the rhythmically melodious Variations of Aegina and Bacchanalia, and the majestic Dance of Gaditanian Maidens and Victory of Spartacus. However, it was the mellow and heartfelt Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia which gorgeously captured their soulful love affair.

Conductor Eduard Topchjan and soloist Sergey Khachatryan embrace

Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D Minor, composed in 1940, is a masterpiece of lively melodies filled with melancholy, but with a hopeful conclusion. This composition featured Khachtryan, with several solo interludes, playing with exquisite precision and powerful emotion.

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The sublime second movement, “Andante” was enchanting in relaying its deeply felt feelings with its very Armenian motifs.

Both compositions received spontaneous cheering ovations for several minutes from the large crowd.

Rachmaninoff in the House

Sergei Rachmaninoff once said that he composed “to give expression to his feelings, somber and brooding, but also warm and tenderly romantic.” And his one-hour long Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, written in 1906, and conducted by the composer himself in 1908 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, certainly evoked those emotions.

The four movement symphonic masterpiece is replete with lyrical, long-lined dramatic intensity, from pensive, haunting feelings, to powerful, emotional harmony, and finally to exuberant triumph, all driven by powerful emotions.

Sergey Khachatryan

And the audience responded with standing ovation to standing ovation, for several minutes, which brought on the encore, Khachaturian’s much loved and dynamic Masquerade Dance. Another long and very loud ovation concluded this special joyous evening.

It was truly an evening that should have been on every music lover’s agenda. And Deacon Adam Bullock from the Eastern Armenian Diocese who said he was attending Stern Auditorium for the first time, voiced the feelings of many when he said he could not have had “a better concert to attend.”

He commented that the orchestra from Armenia did an excellent job of capturing the emotion of Khachaturian’s and Rachmaninoff’s works. And Topchjan’s dynamic conducting style was alluring, and the passion with which Khachatryan drew his bow kept me on the edge of my seat,” he said. “I hope to see more Armenian artists like these in the spotlight.”

Outstanding Artists

The Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra was established in 1925, and is based in Yerevan. Many of the world’s greatest artists, including David Oistrach, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Emil Gilels, Pinchas Zukerman and Placid Domingo, have performed with it.

Conductor Eduard Topchjan with the orchestra

The orchestra has toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, most of Europe, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Russia, the UAE, China and Japan.

Topchjan, a former violin student at the Yerevan Conservatory, was appointed the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra in 2000.

Violinist Khachatryan at age 15 won First Prize at the VIII International Jean Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, Finland, and in 2005, First Prize at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium. Since then, he has performed with famed orchestras in France, Germany, England, Sweden, Australia, and the USA including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, and several others in Seattle, Cleveland and Washington, as well as the Mostly Mozart Festivals.

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