On this new album, there is a sense of a legacy being treated with great respect and affection, as Tigran Hamasyan’s piano immerses itself inventively around the pieces sung by the atmospheric voices of the Yerevan State Chamber Choir. This interesting and often absorbing experiment was recorded in Yerevan in 2014, and produced by ECM founder Manfred Eicher. “It has been a challenge to explore the mystery of Armenian sacred music and to create polyphonic arrangements for melodies by tradition melodic,‘’ writes Hamasyan in the liner notes.
The title translates as ‘Light from Light’ and the matter in hand is Armenian sacred music, including hymns, chants, sharakans – Armenia’s liturgical songs – and Cantos from the 5th century to the 20th, arranged for piano and voices by Tigran Hamasya who works his piano around the inherited traditions. The composer sat down and composed at least one melody prior to the recording, but in the main the pieces were in fact wholly improvised, presumably on various takes.
In March of this year, Hamasyan and the Yerevan State Chamber Choir began an extensive tour of churches in Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Britain, Germany, Luxembourg, Russia, the USA and this country. On Saturday October 17, you can catch the revered pianist and the equally celebrated choir at Christchurch in Dublin.
Moody, tremulous, limpid, occasionally forceful and rising to crescendo, the combined elements should provide an engrossing evening. But there will always be the disc and its mystical allure.