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Hayren: Music of Komitas and Tigran Mansurian [CD]

Kim Kashkashian Audio CD

Price: £17.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

1. Havik
2. Garun a
3. Krunk
4. Chinar es
5. Krunk
6. Hov arek
7. Hoy, Nazan
8. Krunk
9. Tsirani tsar
10. Oror
11. Antuni
12. Oror
13. Duet For Viola and Percussion

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What Could They Have Been Thinking 23 Mar 2005
By Christopher Forbes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have great respect for the wonderful talent of Kim Kashkasian and the pieces I've heard by Tigran Mansurian are intriguing. Add to the the allure of works by Komitas, Armenia's most profound spiritual composer and folk song collector and this CD should be a no brainer recommendation. Sadly, it isn't that at all. It is rather one of the most ill concieved projects in the ECM catelogue.

For those who don't know Armenian music and musical history, Komitas was one of the first great Armenian composers of the modern era. He was trained as a choirboy and then as a priest in the Armenian church. Early in his life he determined to write down and preserve the folk music of his native land before it faded in the face of modernity. It was a good thing too, because much of it would have been destroyed by the Turkish genocide of the early 20th century. Komitas' music was minimal and yet perfectly matched to the haunting folk songs he collected. His songs won the respect of composers such as Debussy. Unfortunately, Komitas nearly perished in the genocide and witnessed first hand many of the atrocities. His mind was never the same and he spent the last years of his life hospitalized.

Komitas' songs are profound works, but they need a profound interpretation. Kashkasian does play viola on a few, but most of the songs are presented with piano, percussion and Mansurian's truly awful voice. Some might think that because the voice is tremulous that this gives Mansurian's interpretations a true folk character, but anyone familiar with the rich vocal traditions from which this music springs will immediately see that Mansurian just can't hold pitch. He doesn't microtonally inflect these pieces....he just can't sing them. Initially the voice is oddly endearing, but after he butchers several extraordinarily beautiful Komitas songs it becomes just plain ugly and ultimately revolting.

The shame is that the two Mansurian works on the disc, both for viola and percussion, are extraordinarily good. The first is a deeply folk influenced work for viola and mallets, which takes it's material from the scales and ornaments of Armenian music. The second is for similar forces but a longer work. It mixes Armenian idioms with an atonal language which is very convincing. On the strength of these two works I'd like to hear more from Mansurian the composer.

But NOT Mansurian the singer. If you are interested in his work, I would suggest trying other discs than this one. And if you are interested in Komitas, seek out one of several recordings by legitimate Armenian singers, or the lovely choral settings of these pieces. Komitas is well worth exploring, but not on this disc. Stay away from this like the plague!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fragile & beautiful 19 Feb 2004
By Moses Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A peculiar project (that's why we love ECM though) exploring both modern and folk music of Armenia.
The disc opens with "Havik" a piece for viola and percussion by Mansurian. It has some of the sparse, echoey percussion one might expect from Takemitsu. It doesn't sound like Takemitsu, that's just what it reminded me of effect wise until the viola enters and then it is clear this music is from the Armenian tradition with its sorrowful longing that never quite reaches despair, and actually inspires hope.
Next comes 11 songs by Komitas and adapted by Mansurian for varying combinations of viola, piano, voice and percussion. Despite a distinct lack of quality and vocal talent, Mansurian's voice (he also handles piano duties) there is an appealing quality to it as he howls with unreserved fragility. Only ECM could conceive something like this and actually make it work.
Komitas' music is laced with tender fragility and a soulful honesty that produces a pensive serenity. No translations are provided (or orignal texts for that matter), but in all honesty, knowing the words would probably just get in the way of the enjoyment of the music. These performances are fragile and gorgeous. Mansurian is almost like a child singing, and the pure passion of his performance makes it enjoyable to listeners as well.
I didn't hold this opinion of the disc the first time I listened, but the tunes are so infectious and powerful that the voice quickly grows on you. You will find yourself humming "Garan A" and the playful "Hoy, Nazan" after a few listens.
Kashkashian makes her viola soar, capturing the nuances of the kemancheh (a bowed instrument played in Armenia and Iran) on pieces like "Krunk." The disc closes with an 18 minute "Duet for Viola and Percussion". Percussion-wise, it employs marimba, xylophone, gongs, congas, etc and they are used to brilliant effect in its slow passages...showing that percussion need not be bombastic to be effective. Much of the piece is performed at a whisper, but it starts to growl about 12 minutes in, but even that is brief and the piece finally fades into silence.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautiful classical CDs I have ever heard 26 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Simple folk loveliness.
The emotions this CD arouses are simply inexpressible. It is hard to articulate what it is about this CD that strikes me as utterly sublime.
The Komitas pieces Mansurian reinterprets are so magnificent and sad. The composer himself actually sings in his endearing off-key voice the old songs from his homeland, Armenia. Kashkashian is as always, a perfect beauty. There are moments on this CD where I actually felt like weeping because it was so beautiful. ECM is releasing a 2 CD set of the hitherto-neglected Mansurian this fall! Watch out for that one as well.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!!! 12 Nov 2006
By Tigran Mkrtchyan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The CD incorporates the three great Armenian Musicians of the 20th century beginning with Komitas, followed up my Mansurian and accomplished by Kashkashian. This is a true and sincere call from an Armenian's heart and there is no need to look for operatic performance of Komitas. Mansurian interpret's Komitas as Brahms sitting in front of his piano was interpreting compositions by Beethoven. This is done in a highly professional manner, though those people who like to hear folklore music performed by opera singers may not necessarily like it, but it does not discerdit the true value of the music masterfully digitalized by the ECM.
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