The Piano Concerto is one of Aram Khachaturian’s most popular works. ‘Probably thirst for “concerto” music, for the colourful-virtuoso style is inherent to my creative individuality,’ he confessed, having composed a concerto for each of three outstanding Russian artists, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Knushevitsky and the pianist Lev Oborin. Chronologically the first, the Piano Concerto (1936), made Khachaturian a name in the West and went on to become a repertoire work for many great pianists.
All of the three movements employ Armenian folk songs and feature the imitation of folk instrumental styles. The sonata-form opening movement includes two major piano cadences; the shorter one comes after the exposition, the longer one at the end of the movement. In the A-minor slow movement Khachaturian called for a curious instrument called a flexatone, patented in 1924. It has since become such a rarity that it is generally replaced by another instrument with a similar sound, or – because the part follows the violin part throughout – it is omitted altogether. In the coda rounding off the finale (which begins in C major and features exciting rhythms) the main theme of the first movement returns, together with the main key of D flat major.