Armenian Composers: Art Songs and Piano Music

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Composer: Ramanos Melikian
Artists: Mariam Sarkissian (mezzo-soprano), Artur Avanesov (piano)

Although Aram Khachaturian may be one of Armenia’s most famous composers, and certainly the best known of the 20th century, the vast wealth of compositional talent from that country by no means stops with him. This unusual and engrossing release showcases a selection of highly diverse songs by three of his compatriots. Beginning with Romanos Melikian’s Emerald Songs, with their Ravel-like harmonies and colourful modality, it also features the transgressive composer Tigran Mansurian, whose alternative style took inspiration from pop music of the 1960s as well as classical postmodern genres. Moving right through to the present day, the release concludes with works by Artur Avanesov, a young Armenian born in Russia. Keen to avoid stylistic unity, the Feux follets, a work still in progress, comprise a selection of songs with no thread to pull them together, the emphasis – according to the composer – being placed on a collective ‘creative past’.
The multi-talented Avanesov is the pianist as well as one of the featured composers on this release. Together with mezzo soprano Mariam Sarkissian, a highly acclaimed Russian singer based in France, the duo have carefully selected an enchanting and compelling assortment of songs, giving the listener a fascinating insight into Armenia’s rich cultural tapestry.
This year’s commemoration of the Armenian Genocide has drawn attention to the rich cultural heritage of this “hidden” country, with its unique language, script and folklore.
This new recording presents three Armenian composers of three generations.

The song cycle “Emerald Songs” by Romanos Melikyan is written on words by 8 contemporary Armenian poets, in a spicy Ravelian language inspired by Armenian folk music. Mansuryan is of the same generation and blood group of Schnittke, Gubaidulina, Pärt and Kancheli. Young Avanesov’s piano cycle “Feux follets” is in postmodern style, free and associative.

Sung with great intensity and feeling for the idiom by Armenian mezzo soprano Mariam Sarkissian, who recently received an “Orphée d’or” for her CD of vocal works by Tchaikovsky and Cui.

Composer : Ramanos Melikian
Artist : Mariam Sarkissian mezzo-soprano – Artur Avanesov piano

00:00:00 Emerald Songs: I. Black Partridge
00:01:41 Emerald Songs: II. The Night Tumbled Down
00:05:14 Emerald Songs: III. The Child and the Creek
00:06:33 Emerald Songs: IV. Don’t Cry
00:09:21 Emerald Songs: V. You Sparkle
00:11:01 Emerald Songs: VI. I Am a Nightingale
00:13:33 Emerald Songs: VII. Pure of the Purest Gold
00:14:41 Emerald Songs: VIII. Lullaby
00:17:48 Lullaby for a Prince
00:22:07 Four Hayrens: I. Prophet David
00:25:36 Four Hayrens: II. Soul of My Soul
00:28:15 Four Hayrens: III. I Was of Those Birds
00:30:59 Four Hayrens: IV. When I Came into This World
00:33:58 Three Romances: I. Little Madrigal
00:36:02 Three Romances: II. Echo
00:38:13 Three Romances: III. Barrio de Córdoba
00:41:01 Feux follets: I. If You Love Me
00:42:29 Feux follets: II. Des fleurs et des abîmes
00:45:48 Feux follets: III. Shivers of Autumn
00:48:25 Feux follets: IV. Kinderstück
00:49:54 Feux follets: V. Du bist die Ruh
00:53:47 Feux follets: VI. You Are More Beautiful Than the Cedars of Lebanon

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