Ararat: France-Arménie, un dialogue musical

Canticum novum, Emmanuel Bardon
58:00
Ambronay AMY 040

In a fashion which has been growing over recent years, encouraged by the example of Jordi Savall and others, this CD blends an ensemble of traditional Armenian and early instruments with voices in accounts of sacred and secular music associated with Armenia. I have got past grumping about the lack of rigorous scholarship behind such projects and now just enjoy the sounds of melodies, passed down through indeterminate generations, played on evocative instruments which suit them very well.

Indeed, it would be a cold listener who is not transported by the plaintive sounds of duduk  and kanun, even though the ancestry of both these instruments in their modern form is doubtful, and the technology of the kanun  as we know it could hardly predate the 18th century. The pleasing “give and take”, as the traditional melodies are developed and passed around the ensemble, are enhanced by the vocal contributions of Barbara Kusa and Emmanuel Bardon, the former with a hauntingly poignant voice, the latter slightly too operatic for my taste with an indulgent inclination to vibrato and portamento. The overall effect is narcotically beautiful and very evocative, although a health warning would need to be attached to any suggestion that this is the authentic sound of ancient Armenia.

D. James Ross

[The video is in French!]