Duduk virtuoso Gevorg Dabaghyan and the world-renowned Komitas String Quartet together perform folk tunes collected by legendary priest, composer and ethnomusicologist Komitas Vartabet. At the turn of the 20th century, Komitas traveled through the Armenian homeland, an area stretching from Anatolia to the Caucasus Mountains in which many believe the Garden of Eden may have existed, gathering thousands of folk songs. The vibrancy and richness of his collection held up an extraordinary mirror to Armenians on the cusp of modernity. Many of the melodies, and the cultures that produced them, were lost in the ensuing decades. Presented here are 14 folk melodies and a sacred hymn that survived in Komitas’s notebooks but are rarely performed in public today. Several are recorded here for the first time ever! These arrangements for duduk (Armenia’s most beloved folk instrument) and string quartet by composer Vache Sharafyan were specially commissioned for Dabaghyan and the Komitas String Quartet.
Gevorg Gourgeni Dabaghyan, born in Yerevan, Armenia in 1965, is one of Armenia’s best living duduk players, and certainly the most accomplished of his generation. He has won many awards, including the grand prize at the international Eastern Traditional Instruments competition in 1990, and the grand prize in the Sayat Nova duduk competition in both 1991 and 1992. He began studying duduk after middle school at the Romanos Melikian Music Institute and from 1984 to 1989 attended the prestigious Komitas State Conservatory. He continued his post-graduate studies at the Conservatory under K. Avetisian until 1992. Dabaghyan has performed around the world in the past decade and recorded extensively. He is featured on more than 50 recordings in the Armenian National Radio archives and as a soloist on several movie soundtracks, including Atom Egoyan’s Ararat (2002) and the Iranian film Miss Maria (2001). The CDs Armenia Anthology, featuring the Shoghaken Ensemble, which Dabaghyan founded in 1991, and Miniatures, a collection of solo duduk repertoire, were released in the United States on the Traditional Crossroads label. Known for his melodic expressiveness, Dabaghyan has also greatly expanded the repertoire of Armenia’s archetypal folk instrument. He was the first to play Armenian church music on the duduk and the first to use a traditional Armenian instrument to accompany new symphonic and choral works by contemporary Armenian composers, including Vache Sharafyan’s The Morning Scent of the Acacia’s Song, which Dabaghyan performed along with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project chamber ensemble throughout Europe and the US. Other notable performances with Shoghaken include concerts at Theatre De La Ville in Paris, France. the ‘White Nights’ festival in St. Petersburg and the Rudolstadt Festival in Rudolstadt, Germany. A much sought-after collaborator, Dabaghyan has also performed recently in concerts with the violinist Gidon Kremer, conductor Yuri Bashmet and the jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek.
Duduk: A double-reed pipe made of apricot wood, the duduk is native to Armenia and symbolically considered its national instrument, though variants can be found in Turkish, Kurdish, Georgian and Azerbaijani regions as well. The Armenian duduk is especially known for its velvety, lyrical and melancholy timbre, close to the human voice. With 8 finger holes and one lower thumb hole, the instrument’s sound would seem to be limited, but the best musicians use subtle lip and finger techniques to extend its range. The most essential folk ensemble instrument, the duduk is always accompanied by a second duduk which plays a drone (dham), around which the principal player weaves complex melodies and improvisations.
The Komitas String Quartet was founded in 1924 by Avet Gabrielyan and Sergey Aslamazyan while they were still students at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1936, the first prize of the USSR Chamber Ensemble competition was divided between the Komitas Quartet and the Bolshoi Theatre Quartet. In 1949, the Komitas Quartet was awarded the USSR State Prize. The group has collaborated with most of Russia’s leading musicians, including Svlatoslav Richter, Rastropovich and Gilels. In 1953, the Komitas Quartet was one of the first Soviet ensembles to tour outside of Russia, and in 1976 the quartet made a tour of all the major cities of the republics of the USSR and to the United States, Latin America and Europe. In 1985, the quartet was awarded the State Premium of Armenia. Its present members are Eduard Tadevossyan, Souren Akhnazaryan, Alexsander Kossemyan, and Aram Talalyan.
1. Jur kuga verin saren Water from the Mountain
2. Shakhkr-shukhkr Playful Joke
3. Orhneal barerar Astvats Blessed is Munificent God
4. Arnem ertam en sare Go to the Mountain
5. Andzrevn ekav The Rain Came
6. En dizan A Wedding Song
7. Alagyaz & Khnki tsar Mt. Alagyaz & Incense Tree
8. Hov areq, sarer jan The Winds from the Mountains
9. Ervum em I Am Burning
10. Sona yar Sona, My Love
11. Lusnakn anush Sweet Moon
12. Es gisher Tonight
13. Erknits, getnits From Earth, from Heaven
14. Ov, Zarmanali O, Mysterious Sacred Hymn