KOMITAS: Armenian Songs. Nine Songs on German Poems.
Hasmik Papian, soprano; Vardan Manikonian, pianist
AUDITE SACD 92.570 TT: 73:14

"BOLIVIAN BAROQUE VOL. 2" Music from the Missions and La Plata
Florilegium, Arakaendar Bolivia Choir and Bolivian Soloists

PIAZZOLLA: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. Two Tangos for String Orchestra. Milonga del Ángel. La Muerte del Ángel. BRAGATO: Graaciela y Buenos Aires.
Les Violons Du Roy
ATMA SACD 2399 TT: 58:00

Audite's SACD features music of Armenian composer Father Komitas who was born in 1869, studied at the priests' seminary and settled in Constantinople in 1910. Deported to Ankara in 1915, he was returned to Paris where he died in 1935. In 1997 the municipality of Paris authorized plans to erect a monument in remembrance of victims of the Armenian genocide carried out by the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, and Komitas was selected for that honor. He had intense interest in folk music, collecting it extensively (some called him "the Armenian Bartók), in addition to writing songs himself. His music is largely neglected today and to help rectify that we have this SACD of his Armenian Songs as well as Nine Songs on German Poems. There are 26 Armenian Songs, the longest 4:34, but most are brief, and four are less than a minute in duration. All of these are beautifully performed by two outstanding young Armenian artists, soprano Hasmik Papian, and pianist Vardan Manikonian. A very special release for those interested in folk music, very well recorded with performers in front, ambient sound from the rear. Complete texts are provided in Armenian, English, German and French.

About two years ago we mentioned on this site the first Florilegium Bolivian Baroque SACD (see REVIEW). Now we have Volume 2 in this series of music from the Missions and La Plata, and here Florilegium is joined by Arakaendar Bolivia Choir and a quartet of singers (2 sopranos, mezzo soprano, tenor) called Bolivian Singers. The program offers works by Balbi, Araujo, Brentner, Bassini, Locatelli, Januario and several anonymous composers. The entire program is a delight, recorded in April 2006 in the warm acoustics of Bolivia's Catedral de Concepción. Complete texts and translations are provided.

Les Violons du Roy takes their name from the famous string orchestra of the court of French kings. Based in Quebec, the small group (12-15 members)was formed in 1984 and performs on modern instruments under the direction of their founder, Bernard Labadie. They tour extensively and use a stylistic approach appropriate for each musical period. They surely have mastered the tango as evidenced by this delightful recording of music of Piazzolla and Bragato. For many, most interest probably will be in Piazzolla's treatment of The Four Seasons, originally written for quintet with piano and bandoneon and arranged, at the request of violinist Gidon Kremer, for violin and string orchestra by Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov. Absolutely fascinating to hear, and you'll notice traces taken from Vivaldi's more famous work. The entire program is superbly performed and wonderfully recorded—warmly recommended, although perhaps more music should have been included: playing time is less than an hour.

R.E.B. (February 2007)