Magazine article Gramophone

Komitas: Seven Songs (A)

Magazine article Gramophone

Komitas: Seven Songs (A)

Article excerpt

Komitas

Seven Songs (a). Seven Dances (a). Al Ayloughs (b). Chinar Es (b). Garun A (b). Haberban (b). Hoy Nazan (b). Kagavi Yerg (b). Kele-Kele (b). Keler Tsoler (b). Khoumar (b). Krounk (b). Shoger Djan (b). Shoushiki (b). Vagharshapati Par (b). Yerkinqn Ampel A (b) (a) Arthur Aharonyan pf (b) Hugo Wolf Quartet Megadisc (B) (2) MDC7875 (64' * DDD)

It's easy to view Komitas's life and music through the prism of tragedy. The Armenian musician and monk was one of 291 prominent figures who, in April 1915, were rounded up and deported to a prison camp by the Ottoman government. Although he was eventually released, he spent the last 20 years of his life in various psychiatric hospitals. Now his music--while mostly pre-dating these events--is widely regarded as a symbol of the Armenian genocide and Komitas himself as a martyr.

But he was more than that: someone who could transform the simplest folksongs of Armenia and Turkey into sophisticated European polyphony. And, in so doing, he invented a new national school of composition. Allegedly, after a 1906 concert, Claude Debussy knelt and kissed Komitas's right hand, saying, 'You're a genius, Holy Father. …

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