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Gomidas Songs / Isabel Bayrakdarian

Bayrakdarian,Isabel
Release Date: 09/23/2008 
Label:  Nonesuch   Catalog #: 511487  
Composer:  Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The works featured on this CD are extraordinarily evocative of a people, a landscape and a rich musical tradition. Never have I listened to songs that I enjoyed so much where the music and lyrics were alien to me. One does not need to understand the language or to be a native Armenian to feel deeply touched and moved. The credit for this achievement, however, does not belong entirely to Gomidas who created them or to Kradjian who orchestrated them but mostly to Isabel Bayrakdarian’s exquisitely beautiful voice.

As stated in the notes accompanying the CD, Gomidas Vartabed was an Armenian composer, singer, ethnomusicologist, choirmaster and pedagogue. His true name was Soghomon Soghomonian but when he eventually took
Read more monastic vows and became a Vartabed (celibate priest), he changed his name to Gomidas, as is the practice in the Armenian Church. His songs are compositions based on Armenian folk tunes that he researched throughout the country, then developed and arranged, always taking care to preserve their typical melodies and rhythms.

Pianist Serouj Kradjian who orchestrated all the songs for this recording and also wrote the notes to the CD booklet, mentions that Gomidas never composed an opera, a symphony, oratorio or concerto but that what he accomplished was actually greater. Gomidas cleansed Armenian music of all foreign influences and returned it to the people, therefore laying the foundations of a national music culture, which earned him the title of “father of Armenian classical music”.

Gomidas was arrested on 24 April 1915, which marked the beginning of the so-called Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire. Together with other Armenian notables, he was deported to a city in northern Central Anatolia. Luckily, some international dignitaries intervened with the government and Gomidas was sent back to the capital after approximately two weeks. It is said that he never recovered completely from the horrific experience of the Genocide. He eventually died in a psychiatric clinic, in Paris, in 1935. His ashes were transferred to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, the year after his death.

The works featured on this CD are extraordinarily evocative of a people, a landscape and a rich musical tradition. Never have I listened to songs that I enjoyed so much where the music and lyrics were alien to me. One does not need to understand the language or to be a native Armenian to feel deeply touched and moved. The credit for this achievement, however, does not belong entirely to Gomidas who created them or to Kradjian who orchestrated them but mostly to Isabel Bayrakdarian’s exquisitely beautiful voice.

As stated on her website, Ms Bayrakdarian was born in Lebanon of proud Armenian heritage and has now become a citizen of Canada. She moved with her family to Toronto as a teenager and her earliest singing experience was at church. She is married to Serouj Kradjian, who, as mentioned above, orchestrated the songs on this CD. She also holds an honours degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Her singing is deeply personal, full of heartfelt sentiment and delicacy. Her tone is smooth, warm and pure; she is excellent in the lowest register of her voice and positively luminous in the highest; appearing equally comfortable when singing in mezza voce. She possesses a brilliant coloratura and an impeccable legato, expressively using her instrument and adapting it to the nature and meaning of each particular song.

Her voice is delightfully tender in Oror (Lullaby); delicate yet vivacious in Dzirani Dzar (Apricot Tree) and Karoon a (Spring); dazzling in Alakyaz / Khngi dzar (Mount Alakyaz / Incense Tree); loving and sweet in Akh Maral jan (Ah, Dear Maral). She can sound alluring yet innocent, powerful yet fragile; her voice is full of colour and contrast and these wonderful qualities come clearly across on this recording. Hers is a voice rich in harmonies and dramatic expression that will delight one no matter what she is singing.

I had never before listened to her and knew her name only from having read an article about her in the June 2005 issue of “Opera News”, the opera magazine from the Met in New York. Therefore, this CD constituted a wonderful surprise as well as a fascinating discovery. It not only revealed to me a truly beautiful voice but also motivated me to read and learn more about Armenia in general and that country’s music in particular.

The songs are lovingly and expertly orchestrated by Serouj Kradjian who also plays the piano, accompanying some of the pieces. The chamber players of the Armenian Philharmonic are excellent, effectively cushioning the soloist’s beautiful voice and never overwhelming it. Throughout the CD, they display a deep understanding of the music, of the characteristics of the human voice in general and of Bayrakdarian’s in particular. Together they have created a wonderful recording of Vartabed’s songs, transforming them into precious and rare gems. This music is traditional and evocative, yet universal in its melodic appeal.

-- Margarida Mota-Bull, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Oror, Adino by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1910; Armenia 
2.
Song of the Partridge by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; Armenia 
3.
Children's Prayer "Our Father" by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
4.
The Sky is Cloudy by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
5.
It's raining by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
6.
Apricot Tree by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1902-1906; Armenia 
7.
Springtime by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
8.
Alagyaz is Covered with Clouds by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
9.
The Incense Tree by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
10.
Unabi by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
11.
Shooshigi by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
12.
Striding, Beaming by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
13.
Oh, Nazan by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
14.
Shakhkr, shukhkr by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
15.
Ah, Dear Maral by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
16.
Strolling by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
17.
Tall as the Poplar Tree by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
18.
I Cannot Dance by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
19.
I'm burning with love by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
20.
Dear Shogher by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; Armenia 
21.
Oh, what a delight by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
22.
The Crane by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Armenia 
23.
Without a home by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 
24.
Call to the sea by Komitas Vardapet
Performer:  Isabel Bayrakdarian (Soprano)
Conductor:  Edvard Topchian
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Armenia 

Featured Sound Samples

The Sky Is Cloudy / It's Raining
Ah, Dear Maral
Tall as the Poplar Tree

Sound Samples

Oror/Lullaby
Gakavi yerke/Song of the Partridge
Manoogneroo Hayr mer/Children's Prayer
Yerginkn amble/Antsrevn yegav/The Cloudy Sky/It's Raining
Dzirani Dzar/Apricot Tree
Karoon a/Spring
Alakyaz/Khngi dzar/Mount Alakyaz/Incense Tree
Yerangi/Dance of Colour
Shooshigi/Dance of Shooshig
Keler tsoler/Striding, Beaming
Hoy Nazan/Shakhgr shookhgr/Oh Nazan/Jingle-Jangle
Akh Maral jan/Ah, Dear Maral
Kele kele/Strolling
Chinar es/Tall as the Poplar Tree
Chem grna khagha/I Cannot Dance
Ervoom em/Shogher jan/I'm Burning With Love/Dear Shogher
Voh inch kaghtsr pan/Oh, What a Delight!
Groong/The Crane
Andooni/Without a Home
Tsayn door ov dzovag/Call to the Sea

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