Interpretation issues of A. Khachaturian’s piano compositions

MARIAM KHARATYAN, University of Agder, Faculty of Fine Arts

The field of this research project is the classical piano music, in a focus of the different aspects of the interpretation of A. Khachaturian’s several significant compositions written for piano. My approach to this artistic research project will be from the point of view of a pianist-performer. During the process of the research years my plan is to do a broader research aimed to understand the real intensions and inspirational sources of the composer, find out my own individual way of the interpretation of his particular works written for piano regarded to the context of it.

  1. Armenian folk music inspiration.
  2. Impact of Soviet Russian compositional school.

I am especially interested in the first context, and my intention is to show that Aram Khachaturian’s musical idiom has its deep roots in the Armenian folklore music, and that his compositions are often imbued with the spirit of this national art. Lastly I will show how these contexts inspire my own individual way of interpretation of his music.

The result of my artistic research project will be presented as a written reflections and as a CD and DVD recordings of A. Khachaturian’s Piano Trio for violin , piano and Clarinet in B, Piano Concerto D flat Major with Symphony Orchestra, Song-Poem and Dance for violin and piano , also some of his works written for solo piano such as Poem and Toccata. After reading A. Khachaturian’s reflections about his art published in the magazine Sovetskaya Muzyka (Soviet Music, 1952) where he describes that his main inspirational source is Armenian national folk culture, I found myself very motivated and excited to do broader research in order to achieve better understanding and to bring more in front plan the element of Armenian folk music in his compositions during my artistic performances.

The implementation of the project: the methods

In order to answer theoretical and historical questions I will use methods as:

  1. Research of historical literature and performance-orientated literature in order to be able to place the project within a certain historical and artistic context. This includes archive search in Aram Khachaturian’s home-museum and Library of Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan Armenia.

In order to answer practical and performative questions I will use methods as:

  1. Observations through CD-recordings and concerts.
  2. Practical work with musical elements as for instance phrasing, melody, harmony, dynamics, agogic, articulations, ornaments and form of A. Khachaturian’s earlier mentioned compositions which is going to be performed and recorded and presented as a result of my Artistic research project.
  3. Since my preliminary research showed me that in A. Khachaturian’s above mentioned compositions contains also imitation of the sound of Armenian folk instruments such as kamancha, tar, kanon, dhol etc. for this reason I will also do some Organology-studies in order to gain maximum knowledge about the sound and specifics of this instruments.

I believe that the result of my research project could be interesting and useful for large circles of musicians, researchers, for the pianist-performers and especially not native Armenian Pianists who would like to have detailed information about the roots and sources of the inspiration and specifics of A. Khachaturian’s art presented from the point of view of a pianist-performer.

Previous research in the area of artistic research

This project falls under the area of performance orientated or artistic research.

I am informed that Göteborg University started with so-called artistic research PhD’s from the beginning of 1980s, and I know about several dissertations where the main part of the dissertation is performance and with an additional written part. Later I know that Norges musikkhøgskole has done the same.

These dissertations are in the creative-artistic branch of research which show that the scholar’s own experience of “performative interpretation” when involved in the research not only helps in focusing on issues important to the performer, but also contributes relevant knowledge that would be inaccessible with traditional scholarly tools. I consider this as important aspects also in my case.