Armenian pianist Lusine Grigoryan emerged on recordings with a disc of music by Komitas (Komitas Vardapet) on the ECM label. She was admirably equipped for the project, having committed herself to the same program of classical music studies and investigations of Armenian folk music that Komitas himself had carried out. Born in Gyumuri, Armenia, Grigoryan went to a music school in Akhuryan and then the Kara-Murza Music College, and finally the Yerevan State Komitas Conservatory. The school was named for Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935), the dean of Armenian composers (also known as Soghomon Soghomonian), whose sacred-secular fusions drew on his deep study of Armenian folk traditions. Grigoryan undertook studies similar to Komitas' own. The result, in the words of Paul Griffiths (writing in the booklet notes for the Komitas: Seven Songs album), was that "In Lusine Grigoryan, Komitas' piano music has an interpreter deeply versed not just in what is on the page, but in the whole folk music background. Her legato phrasing might suggest the duduk, her staccatos the tar; drums and zurna are here, too, together with a folk-like flexibility of rhythm. She also achieves a mysterious presence in her playing such as is typical of rural or ritual music." The Komitas: Seven Songs album was Grigoryan's debut, appearing in 2017 on ECM. The label had already devoted several recordings to the little-known Komitas, beginning with Kim Kashkashian's Hayren: Music of Komitas and Tigran Mansurian in 2000. But Seven Songs went further into the background of the music, thanks to notes by Grigoryan herself, drawing on her extensive knowledge of the tradition in which Komitas worked and on her own knowledge of the dances evoked by specific compositions. For the "Wrestling" section of the multipart work Msho Shoror, she explained that "kokh is Armenian traditional wrestling. This part starts with two or three beats of the drum, to announce a wrestling match, a symbolic contest of strength that yields to merriment, as the music reflects."
© James Manheim /TiVo
© James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released September 22, 2017 | ECM New Series
The Armenian composer Komitas, also known as Soghomon Soghomonian or Komitas Vardapet ("Komitas the Priest") was a unique figure. Essentially the founder of Armenian classical music, he wrote short pieces that were deeply informed by his study of Armenian folksong and vernacular instrumental music. He was not exactly a nationalist but rather a composer fascinated by the musical language of folk music and seeking to extend it. The new interest by the ECM label in Komitas' music is great news, for the label's famed vanishing-point acoustics catch the small details in his music that evoke models of folk playing. Armenian pianist Lusine Grigoryan obviously treats this music as a labor of love, and you also get her own notes on the music (as well as an introduction by the always informative Paul Griffiths), drawn from an interpretive tradition that in most cases probably came down directly from Komitas himself. Sample one of the Pieces for Children, brief works that look forward to Bartók's Mikrokosmos. A deeply absorbing, beautifully recorded album. © TiVo
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