Cello Concerto (Khachaturian)
Aram Khachaturian wrote his Cello Concerto in E minor in 1946 for Sviatoslav Knushevitsky. It was the last of the three concertos he wrote for the individual members of a renowned Soviet piano trio that performed together from 1941 until 1963. The others were: the Piano Concerto for Lev Oborin (1936); and the Violin Concerto for David Oistrakh (1940).
Although the last written of the three, the Cello Concerto was the first one Khachaturian had considered writing, when he was a cello student at the Gnessin Institute.
The work was premiered on 30 October 1946 (or November 1946), in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, with the dedicatee Sviatoslav Knushevitsky as soloist. The conductor was Aleksandr Gauk.
The Cello Concerto is the least known of the three concertos, and has not entered the core repertoire of cellists in the way the other two have for pianists and violinists. It has received relatively few recordings.
The work is said to echo Khachaturian's painful experiences of war-time. It contains many allusions to folk material and dance rhythms such as the ashoug. It has been described as more of a symphony with cello than a cello concerto.
The three movements are:
- 1. Allegro moderato
- 2. Andante sostenuto - attacca
- 3. Allegro (a battuta).
The opening movement contains sections of a brooding quality, and even quotes the Dies Irae. It is rhapsodic and changeable in its moods. It contains a lengthy cadenza but has little by way of thematic development.