Catherine Manoukian

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Strauss and Franck: Violin Sonatas

E flat major is so strongly associated in the German musical psyche with massive, heroic statements - Beethoven's Eroica Symphony and Emperor Piano Concerto and R Strauss's Ein Heldenleben spring to mind in this respect - that the general tendency when performing Strauss's E flat Violin Sonata is to emphasise its swashbuckling qualities...

Not violinist Catherine Manooukian, however, who 'sings' Strauss's exultant phrases with a seamless cantabile which constantly reminds one that Strauss was one of the finest composers for the voice. In the finale's secondary material she exchanges rapier-like thrust of the traditional readings for a cushioned sonority of beguiling sensuality. Pianist Xiayin Wang also works miracles in bringing a luminiscent glow to Strauss's virtuosic textures.

If anything, their Franck is finer still. The opening movement's super-heated phrases are temporally and tonally micro-inflected with radiant suppleness, and they bring a melt-in-the-mouth quality to the finale's melodic tendresse that is unforgettable. Bravo!

by Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine

updated: 5 years ago

Strauss and Franck: Violin Sonatas

The raw-edged fresh tone of Canadian-born form Dorothy DeLay pupil Catherine Manoukian suits the tempestous Romanticism of these sonatas by Strauss and Franck, and Xiayin Wang she has a suitably sympathetic partner...

The opening Allegro of the Strauss is gorgeously rich and full-voiced, though the central improvisation - Andante cantabile occasionally suffers from dips in momentum, where the players do not achieve the intensity of expression that would carry these introspective deliberations forward. However, with the exuberant allegro finale the pair are on surer footing, Manoukian singing out Strauss's tender and beautiful melodies and Xiayin Wang providing impeccably transparent support.

Manoukian apparently took the opportunity in her teens to perform Franck's sonata at the Parisian church where the composer was once an organist, on a violin that had belonged to Ysaye. In this recording she certainly makes Franck's lovely lines speak, her judicious and thoughtful use of portamentos adding to the expressive eloquence throughout, and Xiayin Wang employs a perfectly judged rubato in the moments where the piano is allowed soloistic space. Phrasing flows here, and each new outpouring is made to count. Technically the pair are totally assured, never putting a fleet finger wrong. The violin is pleasantly high in the mix, never clouded by the piano, and the recorded sound has a satisfying freshness.


by Catherine Nelson, The Strad Magazine

updated: 5 years ago

Amérimage-Spectra Inc., Women of Music, 2004

updated: 5 years ago

SÜDKURIER: As Worn on Hands

SUumlDKURIER As Worn on Hands
A story that is almost too good to be true: Really wanted Stefan Solyom, the GMD of the Staatskapelle Weimar, the Canadian violinist Catherine Manoukian undertake a project Prokofiev. However, the so strongly pleaded for the Violin Concerto by Edward Elgar that Solyom finally gave way.

During the joint work Conductor and violinist realized then that they harmonize not only musically: a short time later they were married. Even if it sounds corny - that conductor and violinist are emotionally attached, it says on the live recording to actually hear it. Because Stefan Solyom carries the still little known in this country as to Catherine Manoukian hands over the cliffs of this quasi-symphonic giant plant. They lose in Elgar's melodic digressions never the great arch of the view that the voltage has to also engage in this sounded technically successful live recording almost palpable. (fab)

...
Wie auf Händen getragen

Eine Geschichte, fast zu schön, um wahr zu sein: Eigentlich wollte Stefan Solyom, der GMD der Staatskapelle Weimar, die kanadische Geigerin Catherine Manoukian für ein Prokofjew-Projekt verpflichten. Die allerdings plädierte derart nachdrücklich für das Violinkonzert von Edward Elgar, dass Solyom schließlich nachgab.

Während der gemeinsamen Arbeit merkten Dirigent und Geigerin dann, dass sie nicht nur musikalisch harmonieren: kurze Zeit später waren sie verheiratet. Selbst wenn es kitschig klingen mag – dass sich Dirigent und Geigerin emotional zugetan sind, meint man auf der Live-Aufnahme tatsächlich hören zu können. Denn Stefan Solyom trägt die hierzulande noch wenig bekannte Catherine Manoukian wie auf Händen über die Klippen dieses quasi-sinfonischen Riesenwerks. Dabei verlieren sie in Elgars melodischen Abschweifungen nie den großen Bogen aus dem Blick: die Spannung ist bei dieser auch klangtechnisch gelungenen Live-Aufnahme fast mit Händen zu greifen. (fab)

by Kultur

updated: 5 years ago

German Press Articles

updated: 5 years ago

Khatchaturian and Shostakovich: Violin Concertos CD

This uplifting performance of Khachaturian's Violin Concerto, one of the undoubted masterpiece of the 20th century repertoire, comes from musicians associated with the composer's homeland.

The Armenian orchestra's playing is stylish and rhythmically finessed, with some especially beguiling woodwind. Eduard Topchjan keeps his forces admirably controlled, allowing space for the violin soloist to shine. There are vibrant and vital passages for the orchestral strings, especially after the soloist's cadenza - launched by an exquisite dialogue with the clarinet- and in the Andante sostenuto, where middle strings play plaintively above pizzicato cellos and double basses.
Canadian-born Catherine Manoukian is an eloquent exponent of this appetizing work. Her tone is pure, with nicely understated vibrato, and her playing throughout is gorgeously expressive. The gentle lilt of Khachaturian's high-flying melodic lines, not least in the berceuse-like Andante, comes across almost effortlessly, as if the violin were floating on an oriental carpet of air, swayed here and there by gentle breezes, until the spirited finale calls forth a more vigorous tone. All in all, a scintillatingly good performance, splendidly captured.

The Shostakovich begins in somber vein, with atmospheric orchestral strings. The first movement, shrouded in mystery, is brilliantly sustained. The solo line comes over admirably, not least when engaging in sad dialogue with dark lower woodwind. A gutsy Scherzo follows, before the intense, varied Passacaglia, to which Manoukian's involvement and restraint lend added power. The prolonged cadenza is superbly executed and the jaunty closing Burlesque is brilliantly played. All in all, an exciting, beautifully recorded disc.

by Roderick Dunnett, The Strad Magazine

updated: 5 years ago

Khatchaturian and Shostakovich: Violin Concertos CD

In the course of studying the history of the Soviet Union, Canadian violinist Catherine Manoukian became attracted to the music of its leading composers and took particular interest in Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto and Dmitry Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, which she added to her already impressive repertoire.

This 2006 release on Marquis presents Manoukian with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Eduard Topchjan, in exciting performances that demonstrate both her aptitude for this music and the intensity of her expression, which comes through with great clarity and immediacy at all points in these recordings. Manoukian's playing is consistently accurate in rhythm and intonation, and her energy is steady in the demanding cadenzas and passages of flashy repartée with the orchestra. But her most affecting playing is found in the Andante sostenuto of Khachaturian's concerto, and in the brooding Nocturne and Passacaglia of Shostakovich's work, where her sustained lines and penetrating tone communicate emotions that are mysterious, dark, and profound, especially in the latter two examples. These are unusual vehicles for a young performer to play, far from the popular Romantic concertos that have become de rigueur for others, yet Manoukian seems to thrive on playing music off the beaten path, and the selections on this album show her to be fully capable and confident in the modern violin literature. Marquis' reproduction is terrific, with clear separation of the violin from the orchestra and with just the right amount of resonance to enhance Manoukian's presence.

by Blair Sanderson

updated: 5 years ago