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Music of Komitas & Tigran Mansurian Import

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, July 22, 2003
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 22, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B00008UAFW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,574 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Forbes on March 23, 2005
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.
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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.
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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.
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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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