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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tigran Hamasyan, Luys i Luso, Yerevan State Chamber Choir

Armenian pianist/composer Tigran Hamasyan joins together with the Yerevan State Chamber Choir under Harutyan Topikyan for the very beautiful Luys i Luso (ECM 2447), a program of re-presented Armenian sacred music from the 5th to the 20th centuries. They are nicely arranged and resituated for the choir and Tigran performing a concerted piano and prepared-piano obbligato commentary on the choral music.

These represent a spectrum of Armenian sacred classics from ancient chant to songs by Grigor Pahlavuni and Komitas Vardapet.

The Armenian minor modality predominates much of the time, but then there are unexpected twists and turns in the joining together of music with music and in the classic source materials. One might not quite expect all of this if one is not intimately versed in the historic repertoire. Plus the arrangements are very creative and add modern elements to it all.

Tigran Hamasyan has a critical role to play as piano commentator, embellishment master and independent voice. Those who know Hovaness's "Lousadzak" Piano Concerto may feel quite at home with the piano part, as much as or more due to the highly Armenian quality of that Hovhaness work and Tigran's similar sympathies as of influence. But there are affinities nonetheless, and all the better for that. You would never mistake this music for Hovaness's though, because the nature of the choral music and the piano commentary put this in a world of its own.

It is exceedingly mellifluous and fascinatingly multi-dimensional in its beauty. Piano and choir are at times in perfect synch, other times they occupy two parallel musical dimensions where one sets off the other for a world of present-in-past and past-in-present.

Anyone who loves the very unique realm of Armenian music will take to this. Those that do not know it well will nonetheless find this music rather unforgettable, I would think, as I do. Highly recommended.

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