"Armenian Composers" CD
Fanfare Magazine 39:6
Although this appears to be primarily a vocal recital, it is worth noting that about one-third of the disc is given over to solo piano music, one lullaby by Tigran Mansurian and a six-movement suite by Artur Avanesov, played by the composer.
In any case, this is an attractive disc for those willing to explore corners of the repertoire that we do not usually encounter. This music is colorful, melodically appealing, and harmonically complex, without becoming forbidding to the ears of traditionalists. Traditional Armenian folk music is at the core of much of the music on this disc, and most ears will find it both somewhat exotic while very attractive. The songs range from the gentle and lyrical to the dramatic, from the urgent to the reflective. The Three Romances of Tigran Mansurian are based on poems of García Lorca, and there is a mournful emptiness in the words that is brilliantly reflected in the music. These are particularly haunting, and are sung with intensity and a dark color by Sarkissian.
Overall Sarkissian, a student of Zara Dolukhanova and June Anderson, demonstrates a lyric mezzo-soprano voice capable of a wide range of color and employed with imagination. We should be grateful for what she does provide and her sensitive rendering of some very dramatic music. “Soul of My Soul,” one of the Four Hayrens from Nahapet Kuchak’s Poetry, is chillingly delivered.
Artur Avanesov offers true collaboration at the piano, integrating with his singer at all points. The solo piano pieces, including his own, are an attractive contrast to the vocal works. His Feux follets are far more than light diversions. The range from attractive entertainment to highly dramatic statements, and keep us wondering what is going to come next. I found myself engrossed.
The recorded sound of the piano solos is quite natural and warm, but I found the voice-piano recordings a bit overly reverberant and in need of a bit more focus. The booklet provides good notes, and Brilliant makes it easy to download texts and translations from its web site. This is a very interesting, even captivating, recording.
This article originally appeared in Issue 39:6 (July/Aug 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.