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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars music of emotion, 31 Oct 2012
Without first reading the accompanying booklet, I began to listen. Silent tears rolled, my emotion an enriching but fathomless sadness. If only all people could hear this music and feel the same way as I do. It would stop wars for good. Curious, I started to read the accompanying book. After the short but moving overview of the area's devastating history, musician Jordi Savall's last sentence hit me with a bang. "Without Emotion there is no Memory, without Memory there is no Justice, without Justice there is no Civilization and without Civilization human beings have no future."

I realize my opinion about this cd is mostly a subjective one since a lot of middle-eastern music affects me strongly, including the soulful music of the dudek instruments which sometimes sound like the voice of a singer who is trying not to cry. Their sounding of intervals other than tones and semitones can eerily stir deep parts of ones' psyche.
If you aren't used to this type of music but would like to try it, I recommend listening to a few bands at a time, then go back to it later.
It is a wonderful recording. The sound is exquisite.

One thing: I would like the words of the poems after the band titles to be also in English translation. (from the French.)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but amorous and sad music to the extreme, 28 July 2013
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Armenian music is using three traditional instruments. The duduk and the zurna, two wind instruments of the vast family of the pipe, and the kamancha, a string instrument using a bow. These give Armenian music a very special sonority both extremely cosmic with the duduk, shrill with the zurna and bitter or sour with the kamancha. They add other instruments more in the European line, a violin of course, an organ, various violas da gamba and tambourines. As such many pieces, especially those using a duduk that can be amplified by the organ or other instruments, sound at times psychedelic, a music that can take you high into heaven and this remark brings the next point. But many of the sounds and compositions could be compared to the music produced in mountainous regions isolated in a way or another, like for example Corsica or Sardinia.

The music of Armenia is deeply articulated onto its national culture which is built on the language that has resisted more than twenty centuries thanks to an original alphabet invented in 405-406 by Mesrop Mashtots that devised 36 letters for his language. The first task was to translate the Bible and the Fathers of the Church, an objective which was quite common in those days. They did the same thing in Ireland or in England. But this language that was able to resist any attempt to destroy it found another inspiration: their religion. Armenia was the first state to convert to Christianity asq a state even before the Roman Empire and that story was long, and very conflict-loaded, especially with the surrounding countries who were all "pagan" at first, and then turned Muslim in a few centuries. During the crusade period they managed to be integrated in the Christian states in the Middle East, but that was only a short period of positive relations with the outside world and it explains their impact in medieval Europe especially with one Troubadour, Jaufré Rudel from Blaye, Aquitainia, France, who dedicated one of his eight surviving song to the story of a Queen of Armenia.

During May, when the days are long,
I admire the song of the birds from far away
and when I have gone away from there
I remember a love far away.
I go scowling, with my head down
so much that songs and hawthorn flowers
aren't better, to me, than the frozen Winter.
[...]
He is true who calls me grasping
and longing for a faraway love
since no other merriment pleases me as much
as enjoying a faraway love.
But that which I want is denied to me
since my godfather made it so
that I love and am not loved.

Then up to the Soviet Revolution, they were divided, integrated in various empires and negated in their independence and culture, both language and religion. The Soviet Revolution actually created an Armenian Republic within the USSR that could teach and use their language and enjoy some religious freedom. This period of slightly more than 70 years came after the tragic genocide performed by the Turks in 1915 when the whole world was fighting in France against the Germans. This genocide is still not solved in Turkey nor the world. Recognized by most it is far from being off the table and thus repaired and forgiven.

But after the fall of the USSR Armenia had to relearn its national fight especially against the surrounding Muslim countries and particularly Azerbaijan with the tragic fate of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh that is constantly under pressure from surrounding Azerbaijan. Armenia nowadays is still isolated though the international support it enjoys enables it to reconstruct itself and live in peace. Turkey is slowly evolving towards acknowledging their responsibility in the 1915 genocide and Azerbaijan, Syria and Iraq should evolved positively, especially the Kurds who are also speaking an Indo-European language, though they are Muslims but they also have a problem of national and cultural recognition and independence.

But the most important element is the fact that their cultural emergence was finally acknowledged in the world because of the great efforts of the French linguist Arthur Meillet who published his first grammar of the Armenian Language in 1903. This grammar remains a milestone on the road to the description and understanding of the language. It classified it in the Indo-European family and gave it the nobility it needed to find a new life. Armenian is very close to Greek and we can think the Greek migration to the Balkans, through Anatolia started there after the moving down west from the Iranian plateau and separation from the other branch of that family of languages, the Indo-Aryan subfamily that went down east.

It is in that region that the mystery of the Indo-European migrations to Europe can find its solution. Another migration probably based on a slightly differentiated group (the presence of the Kurdish linguistic area shows the Indo-Europeans were probably not unified in only one "dialect" and the second, or more, "dialect" moved across the Caucasus into the Russian plains and the n northern and western Europe. Armenia is thus central in the history of Europe, just as much as the Kurds and the Turks. The Kurds because they are our linguistic family moving down from the Iranian plateau, and the Turks because they are the modern descendants of the Turkic people who were the first Homo Sapiens in Europe under the appellation of Cro-Magnon and Gravettians.

The music itself is always sad, always mysterious, always feeling as if in danger, under some menace. And yet the mythology of Armenia is rich with dragons, a dragon killer, and that is so Indo-European since this dragon killer is a distant ancestor of Germanic Siegfried. But since Armenia was the first Christian State we may hope to get one day from some archaeological cache some old documents from the early Christians that could widen the Nag Hammadi library and the Dead Sea Scrolls, not to speak of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew and that could cast some light on how Christianity built its dogma in the third and fourth centuries. At least Armenia should be considered closely by Christian archaeologists.

But do not fall in any romanticism about the suffering of the Armenian people. History is cruel and there is no exception. But I regret that Armenian Christian music has not yet reached some essential sacred music festivals in France, for example La Chaise-Dieu that seems be very reluctant at integrating other Christian approaches that are not Catholic or Protestant, with a recent evolution towards Russian Orthodox music, but African, Latin American, Armenian, Asian Christian approaches are not at all considered, be they Catholic, Protestant, Anglican or whatever.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It helped that it was a hot summer's night with the windows open and dusk was falling - a great time to listen to music like thi, 12 July 2014
By 
J. Baldwin "Reader" (Dundee, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I'd seen a few Hesperion XXI CDs in the shop over the past year with their distinctive cover design but hadn't taken the plunge.
But I managed to catch a concert from the 2014 York Early Music Festival on Radio 3 and was rather hooked.
It helped that it was a hot summer's night with the windows open and dusk was falling - a great time to listen to music like this (Radio 3 also caught me a few years ago by playing L'Arpeggiata performing Homo Fugit Velut Umbra on a hot summer night - another recommended purchase).

So I bought this on a whim.

Several tracks in and I'm already recommending it to friends on Twitter and Facebook.

It's atmospheric music, ideal for reading to, or just staring out of the window. I don't think anyone's going to complain if you put this on in the background but it also repays full attention.

I'll be sampling a few more of Hesperion XXI's discs in the future.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful music, beautiful playing, beautiful production., 29 Nov 2012
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After hearing a couple of tracks on my local radio I was inspired t buy this CD. The music is hauntingly beautiful, played with sensitivity and elegance. The modal music, played by a small ensemble of very fine musicians, has an uplifting yet calming quality and I find it quite mesmerising. I love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting sound, 5 Jun 2014
By 
George E. Boyce (Monmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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Superb, emotive music, beautifully played! What a great instrument the duduk is! I could listen to it all day and never tire of it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 1 April 2013
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This is my favorite out of all the Jordi Savall I recently purchased. He is both professional and passionate, you will not be disappointed. This is a more reflective collection of music, truly haunting at times.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always surprising choices fro Jordi Savall, 29 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Armenian Spirit (Esprit d'Arménie) (MP3 Download)
Strange, haunting melodies and tones. Unusual pieces but very beautiful. Had never even considered what 'Armenian' pieces might sound like, but glad I found this. Check them out, and some of Jordi Savalls other recordings. I can particularly recommend 'Alfons V El Magnanim', works from the court of Alphonse V "the Magnanimous," the 15th-century ruler of Aragon, Sicily, and Naples.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Armenian Spirit, Hesperion XXI, 27 Oct 2012
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Another perfect disc from Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI, with very informative accompanying booklet. The ensemble never fail to inspire, and this CD is highly to be recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great CD from Jordi., 19 July 2014
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Great music from great musicians. Anybody who wants to broaden their cultural horizons, or just enjoy the music should buy this without hesitation. The sleeve notes are great too.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oriental magic, 13 Dec 2012
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This is music very emotional with a background of oriental magic.There is wonderful the performance of the traditional and the classical musicians.
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