Pushing ahead with the Russians we get to Khachaturian versus Borodin.
Khachaturian was a Soviet composer while Borodin was a Russian composer--there’s a difference.
Even during the Soviet period we can divide composers such as Khachaturian and Kabalevsky as Soviet while Stravinsky and Prokofiev where Russian. Shostakovich inhabited a bizarre and precarious middle ground.
The difference, in my mind, is based on how much xylophone the composer used. The Soviet composers were obsessed with being upbeat in order to avoid The Gulag so they beat the hell out of the xylophone in pieces such as Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance.
This kind of percussive element is everywhere during the Soviet period. We even hear it in the final movement of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.
Alright, so maybe there’s more to this than the xylophone but we must admit it’s impossible for a xylophone to sound sad and oppressed by a totalitarian state.
While Khachaturian wrote some amazing tunes such as the Adagio from Spartacus, Borodin wrote In the Steppes of Central Asia which is music that is Russian to the core even though it borders on Mongolia.
Spartacus versus Genghis Khan, who wins?
I think the Adagio from Spartacus might be the sexiest piece of music ever written but the nod goes to Borodin on this one.