Armenia celebrates Khachaturian in Berlin, 2018

On the occasion of the 115th birthday of the great composer Aram Khachaturian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia Ashot Smbatyan on November 28 invited the Berlin public to a concert at the renowned Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt. The sold-out event featured the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and was especially honored by the presence of Armenian President Armen Sarkisyan.
The full-scale orchestra under conductor Eduard Topchjan presented itself with an ambitious program. The evening opened with the suite from the ballet “Spartacus” by Khachaturian. Immediately apparent was the impressive depth of artistic cooperation between orchestra and conductor, which has matured during 18 years of their working together. Topchjan is able to conduct complex composition with most economical movements and proved his international class throughout the entire evening.
In the ensuing Khachaturian Concert for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Berlin-trained, famous violinist Sergey Khachatryan showed his mastery and came up to the high demands of this far too seldom performed piece of music. Khachatryan reacted to the long-lasting applause with an encore for solo violin. Although renowned for his Bach interpretations, he chose an 11th-century medieval song “Havun havun” by Gregor of Naregatsi, which posed a surprising contrast to the lavishly orchestrated Violin Concerto. The simple inwardness and lyrical tenderness of this spiritual song brought tears to the eyes of many listeners.
After the interval, the Symphony No. 5 in D minor (op. 47) by Dmitri Shostakovich put highest demands on the orchestra. The brilliant brass, the precise percussion, the virtuoso woodwinds and the warm strings perfectly dealt with the reputedly difficult acoustics of the Berliner Konzerthaus. The Armenian orchestra truly is one of Europe’s top ensembles. In all compositions the encore – the waltz from Khachaturian’s Masquerade – you felt the thrilling energy of the orchestra, which has a surprisingly higher proportion of female players than many other orchestras in Europe. Unfortunately, a female lead still remains an exception in Berlin.
Thanks to Ambassador Ashot Smbatyan’s great dedication and heartfelt engagement to culture the public experienced an exceptional concert evening.
Kristian Commichau, Prof.
Potsdam University