komitas cover Cat. Nr.

ECM 2451


The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble

Release Titel:


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ECM Records


World / Ethno / Armenia





Press Release / Description




Music, its forms and rituals, has the power to bring us close to distant civilizations. Armenia offers a special case: a sacred culture that was preserved and presented at its fullest flowering through the work of one man, the scholar-monk Soghomon Soghomonian (1869 – 1935), known under his religious name as Komitas, to which is sometimes appended the title Vardapet (archimandrite). Komitas was many things: composer, priest, collector and arranger of folk songs, choirmaster, singer, rigorous researcher into khaz, the neumatic system developed in Armenia between the ninth century and the fifteenth. His musical education took place at the seminary attached to Echmiadzin Cathedral, the Holy See of the Armen-ian Apostolic Church, and in Berlin, where his teachers included Richard Schmidt, the theorist Heinrich Beller-mann, the prominent folklorist Max Friedlaender and Oskar Fleischer, a specialist in European medieval music. Acquainted with western classical music as well as the Armenian tradition, he also had a deep understanding of Middle Eastern and more distant Asian musical cultures, which helped him understand and define what was unique to Armenian music. While living in Armenia he gathered thousands of folk songs, sacred songs and instrumental melodies, to notate which at speed he often used the Armenian system, though he also made arrangements for piano, solo voice or chorus in standard western notation. In his compositions he was able to combine Armenian modality with as-pects of the western classical tradition and thereby establish practical models and a theoretical basis for the de-velopment of a specifically Armenian classical music. In his work as a collector of thousands of folk songs, sacred songs and instrumental melodies, he explored the connections that uniquely bind together Armenian sacred and secular music.This program indicates the breadth of his achievement and something of his methods. His practice was to select the most interesting variants of traditional melodies and rhythmic patterns while remaining true to the original style and spirit, which partly accounts for the unusual character of his piano writing in solo pieces and accom-paniments. In an effort to go more deeply into the music and its interpretative potential, as well as to recreate the sounds Komitas encountered, the pieces are here arranged for traditional Armenian instruments, without altering Komi-tas’s structures and details. Some of the instruments date back to antiquity, and it has been necessary to build replicas of those no longer in use. Komitas preserved several dance melodies as piano pieces, and included in the manuscripts of his Yot Par (Sev-en dances) and Msho shoror instructions for how to imitate the styles of traditional instruments on the piano. He would constantly revise these dances to make the conventional notation more closely fit what was particular in his source material. Many of these dances and their music reach back to Armenia’s pagan time, long before the state adoption of Christianity in 301. Komitas wrote that: ‘The pagans had two major types of dances, sacred and secular, that have kept their original functions to the present day’ – though he noted also that ‘religious traces still survive in folk or secular dances’. “Dance”, he further observed, “is perhaps one of the most significant manifestations of human existence. It ex-presses the particular traits of a nation, especially its customs and the level of its civilization. For through its manifold movements dance unconsciously exposes the workings of the spirit.” Levon Eskenian (source: gurdjieffensemble.com)



Featured artists

Levon Eskenian director
Emmanuel Hovhannisyan duduk, pku, zurna
Armen Ayvazyan kamancha
Avag Margaryan pogh, zurna
Aram Nikoghosyan oud
Davit Avagyan tar
Mesrop Khalatyan dap, dhol
Vladimir Papikyan santur, voice
Meri Vardanyan kanon
Norayr Gapoyan duduk, bass duduk
Eduard Harutyunyan tmbuk, cymbal, kshots, burvar, bell





01. Zulo
02. Mani Asem, Tsaghik Asem
03. Msho Shoror
04. Havun
05. Mankakan Nvag XII
06. Lorva Gutanerg
07. Manushaki of Vagharshapat
08. Shushiki of Vagharshapat
09. Unabi of Shushi
10. Marali of Shushi
11. Yerangui of Yerevan
12. Het u Araj of Karin
13. Karno Shoror
14. Hov Arek
15. Gutane Hats em Berum
16. Hoy Nazan
17. Havik
18. Akna Oror






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