Khachaturian: Spartacus Suite No.2

The South Birmingham Sinfonia will perform this symphony in their Summer 2019 concert on Saturday, 13th July 2019.

Aram Il'yich Khachaturian (1903 to 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and, unlike Shostakovich for example, for most of his life was at least approved by the Soviet government, ultimately becoming Secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers. Although his work as a whole is perhaps not as well known in general, his music has been used frequently in TV and film, and some individual items by him are instantly recognisable, such as the Sabre Dance from Khachaturian's ballet Gayane, or (for listeners of that particular age group) the theme from the first movement of the second Spartacus Suite, which is played tonight, as was used in the 1970s as the theme to the BBC TV series, The Onedin Line.

The Spartacus Suite No.2 is the second of four suites that Khachaturian made from his three act ballet of the same name. The music is always lively and well-crafted and makes for easy and pleasant listening. The movements are as follows.

1. Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia

2. Entrance of the Merchants - Dance of a Roman Courtesan

3. General Dance

4. Entrance of Spartacus - Quarrel

5. Treachery of Harmodius

6. Dance of the Pirates

©RWK for SBS, April 2019