Aznavoorian Duo to release ‘Gems from Armenia’ album in April

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CHICAGO — On Friday, April 8, 2022, celebrated Armenian American sisters Ani (cello) and Marta (piano) Aznavoorian will release their debut duo album, “Gems from Armenia,” on Cedille Records, Broadway World reports.

The Chicago-based Aznavoorian Duo celebrates the sounds of their ancestral homeland through a panoramic survey of Armenian classical music, including works by composers Komitas Vartabed, Aram Khachaturian, Arno Babajanian, and Avet Terterian; contemporary Armenian composers Serouj Kradjian, Alexander Arutiunian, and Vache Sharafyan; and the world premiere recording of a new piece by Peter Boyer. The duo will perform a recital featuring works from the album on Sunday, May 15, at 3 p.m. at Nichols Hall at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston.

The Aznavoorian Duo comments, “The idea for this CD sprung out of gratitude to the proud and soulful people of Armenia and our homage to the historical challenges they have overcome and continue to engage with.” In the liner notes, Gary Peter Rejebian writes, “Gems from Armenia voices a range of opposing emotions across three periods of time: some ringing clear in their own right, others but a whisper of other peaks and valleys in the Armenian story.

The album opens with five ancient folk songs arranged by Komitas Vardapet. Rejebian says, “Komitas strove not merely to capture melodic tunes, but to evoke the very life and heartache of the people who passed down poetic lyrics in song over centuries as he documented them for the ages.”

He continues “Soviet-era composers Aram Khachaturian, Arno Babajanian, Avet Terterian, and Alexander Arutiunian collectively represent a musical renaissance for the Armenians; a period of greatness analogous to the first millennium ‘Golden Age’ of the Armenian kingdom… Khachaturian’s glorious ode to his hometown (Yerevan) and Babajanian’s tribute to Khachaturian, his mentor (Elegy), speak with impassioned fondness in very different voices. Terterian’s Sonata, first performed in 1956, precedes the symphonies and stage works for which he is best known… As a snapshot of his lively style inspired by memorable folk melodies, Alexander Arutiunian composed his Impromptu in 1948.”

A third era, of contemporary music, is embodied by Serouj Kradjian, Vache Sharafyan, and Peter Boyer. Rejebian shares, “Lebanese-born pianist and composer Kradjian arranged Sari Siroun Yar (Beautiful Mountain Girl) as a faithful retelling of the troubadour Ashod’s ballad about a mountaineer pining for his beautiful village love… Sharafyan composed his Petrified Dance through multiple iterations of string-piano combinations for Harutyun Khachatryan’s documentary about Armenian street artist Vahan Ananyan.”

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“Boyer composed Mount Ararat for the Aznavoorian Duo specially for this project as a reflection of how Armenia’s biblical heritage resonated with a composer from a completely different background,” Rejebian writes.

The Aznavoorian Duo has toured France, Armenia, and Finland, performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and presented numerous programs in their hometown of Chicago.

They have individually worked with leading contemporary composers including John Harbison, Clarice Assad, Lera Auerbach, William Bolcom, Osvaldo Golijov, Shulamit Ran, Peter Boyer, Augusta Read Thomas, and Stacy Garrop, among others. Separately, the Aznavoorians have recorded for the Warner Classics, Cedille, ARTEC, and Erato labels.

 

 

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