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the project

This second volume in The Music of Armenia continues to present one of the world's most beautiful, most ancient, and most overlooked musical traditions. Sharakan is the name of a remarkable body of Armenian liturgical songs dating back at least as far as medieval times—songs that are remarkable not just for their antiquity, but for their exquisite, often heartrending melodies. As with The Music of Armenia, Volume One: Sacred Choral Music (13115), this volume brings to Western audiences, in many cases for the first time, the unique blend of Eastern and European music that began to develop in Armenia in the early 5th century.

The medieval songs of Armenia had their roots in both the sacred music of the Armenian Church and in the ancient bardic traditions of the Caucasus region. While some of this music is still presented in its original state, many older Armenian works exist today because of the tireless work of the turn–of–the–century composer and musicologist known as Komitas. The Music of Armenia, Volume Two: Sharakan spans fifteen centuries of Armenian music, and Komitas' presence can be deeply felt in some of the arrangements. In many of these songs, though, conductor Daniel Erazhisht has wedded the exotic, often melancholy lyricism of the Near East to the classical purity of a European chamber ensemble, consisting of string quartet, voice, and flute. As a result, the sound is immediately accessible to Western listeners, even as the melodies capture the ear with their surprising arabesques.

Several instrumental tracks featuring the traditional Armenian lute, or tar, are also included; but perhaps the most striking song in the collection is an almost cantorial work for voice and piano; Horzham, from the Divine Liturgy of Komitas' teacher Makar Yekmalian, suggests the common roots of early Jewish, Eastern Christian, and Islamic singing.

The Music of Armenia is a six volume set; this second volume, though, may be the one that most directly communicates the tragedy, the resilience and the faith of the Armenian people.

the artists

Sharakan is not just the name of a type of medieval song, it is also the name of Daniel Erazhisht's ensemble. The Sharakan Early Music Ensemble was founded in 1991 to perform Armenian music of the Middle Ages, starting from the 5th century. It was created by Grigor Danielian, who has followed the age–old Armenian tradition of taking a pseudonym, in his case Daniel Erazhisht, for his musical work. The name Daniel Erazhisht literally means Daniel the Musician, and was the name of an outstanding musical figure of the eleventh century.

Several guest musicians join the Sharakan Early Music Ensemble on this recording; most notable among them is soprano Anna Mailian, who is considered the finest classical and operatic singer in Armenia today. She is in demand at major opera houses throughout Europe; her voice is heard on seven songs in this collection. Also appearing are Hovhannes Darbinian, a leading performer on the traditional Armenian tar, Ara Avanian, vocalist on the song Horzham; and classical pianist Margarit Sarkissian.

tracklist

1 Sirt im sasani (My heart trembles with fear; I foresee the betrayl of Judas.) 4'16"
2 Chinar es (You are a plane tree.) 3'18"
3 Havoun, havoun (About the bird.) 4'47"
4 Zarmanali e ints (It is wonderous to me.) 4'28"
5 Ter herknits (Heavenly Father.) 2'28"
6 Ter voghormya (Lord have mercy.) 2'41"
7 Havik (Little bird.) 2'58"
8 Gorani 2'09"
9 Hripsimeants sharakan (In praise of Hripsimeh.) 2'47"
10 Sourb, sourb (Holy, holy.) 2'18"
11 Tagh (In praise of the beauty of a rose.) 2'52"
12 Horzham (When you go into the church remember those who have died; 3'44"
  when you listen to the liturgy remember me, who has committed many sins.) 2'21"
13 Ov yeranelid (Oh you Blessed.)  
14 Khorhurd khorin (Deep mystery; eternal mystery. It is beyond my comprehension; 2'41"
  it is infinite and profound, and adorns Heaven with Your glory.)  
15 Bazoum yen ko gtoutyunk (Your forgivness knows no bounds; have mercy on me, God.) 2'08"
16 Sharakan in three parts 4'25"
17 Sail ain ijaner...(The cart is descending.) 3'19"
18 Voghormya ints Astvadz (Show mercy on me God, hear my voice calling from 1'51"
  the morass of my sins and heal me.)  
19 Hreshtakayin (Hagiological hymn.) 2'49"
20 Hayr mer (Our Father.) 2'22"
21 Zors Astvadz verin koum steghdzer (Lord, you created us in your name and you made us 3'28"
  a temple for you. Now accept us as a home for you.)  
22 Our es mayr im (Mother, where are you?) 4'18"
  Total Time: 75'15"