Thursday, September 6, 2012

"I'm Spartacus!" "No, I'M Spartacus!"

It's hard to believe that the music I waxed rhapsodic about yesterday is from a ballet called Spartacus. I've never even watched the movie, which is supposed to have homosexual under/over/whatever-tones, with a few deleted scenes from the Roman baths that are probably restored to the DVD.

All I remember is that stupid scene where Kirk Douglas is standing there and some guy yells out, "Hey, Spartacus?" and everyone else takes a step backward. Or something. I see it over and over again on those Top Fifteen Thousand Greatest Motion Picture Moments that I can never resist watching, bad as they always are.

Anyway, let's not be silly here. If you are serious about your music, which I always am, you will want to hear more than the glowing and gorgeous excerpts from this work that I posted yesterday. I so associated this piece with The Onedin Line that I assumed the music was composed to describe a great seagoing vessel, kind of like in Scheherezade where, in the last movement, "the ship goes to pieces on a rock surmounted by a bronze warrior".

But it ain't, ain't that at all, it's Spartacus, that sweaty guy with the big dent in his chin. I will try to put all that aside, because this music is truly remarkable. Not only that: with the help of someone from YouTube, I found the best version, the one that's excerpted in The Onedin Line. Now you can hear the whole nine minutes if you want to, or not. But I recommend it.


Aram Khatchaturian (whose last name sounds a bit like a chicken dish) is mainly known for that infernal Sabre Dance which you used to hear on Ed Sullivan during the plate-spinning act. It's circus music, and believe me, he is capable of far more than that. And just look at him, he was an absolute god when he was young, with those olive eyes, bow-shaped lips and serious demeanour.

I also found a picture of an Ashot Khatchaturian, a pianist I think. I had hoped he was a son or grandson or something, as there does seem to be a resemblance. No more can classical artists come on stage in sweaty crumpled white shirts, stringy hair and suspenders. They have to be seductive. This guy is, but they keep saying the other Khatchaturian is his "namesake". Could be that in Armenia, the name is as common as dirt.

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