Violin Sonata

Composer: Arno Babadjanyan (b. 1921 - d. 1983)
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Composer: Arno Babadjanyan (b. 1921 - d. 1983)

Performance date: 01/07/2023

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1956

Duration: 00:26:32

Recording Engineer: Tom Norton, RTÉ

Instrumentation: vn, pf

Instrumentation Category:Duo

Artists: Viviane Hagner - [violin]
Lilit Grigoryan - [Piano]

Violin Sonata [1956]

1. Grave – Allegro energico – Andante

2. Andante sostenuto – Presto – Tempo 1

3. Allegro risoluto

A brilliant composer, a superior pianist, a beloved neighbour and a devoted friend over the years. That’s my description of Arno Babadjanian. Despite his early death, he nonetheless played an extremely important role in the music of his time. Mstislav Rostropovich

Babadjanian was an Armenian pianist and composer, born in Yerevan, where he studied and later taught. He had a unique cross-cultural style embedded in Armenian folk music with links to pop, rock, jazz and contemporary classical. His Violin Sonata was dedicated to Shostakovich and it is marked by intense dynamic contrasts and spectacular virtuosity. 

The opening movement begins with a dramatic arpeggio on the violin followed by the piano picking out the notes of the main theme that eventually arrives as the Allegro energico. This quickly bursts out into a violent outcry before subsiding to the cantabile second theme juxtaposed with constantly repeated chords in the piano. A striking feature of this movement is the sudden flaring out on the verge of savagery before an equally abrupt collapse into the violin’s quiet lyricism, always minded by those repeated piano chords.

This is picked up in the Andante with the violin joining in pizzicato. This folk-like melody leads the way until the storm breaks and just as suddenly fades away and the folk melody returns. The little coda is a delightful postscript. The Finale is a wild confusion of different styles, tempi and time signatures with some alarming contrasts. At the end it is all drawn together for a final shout of triumph. 

Francis Humphrys