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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

HOVER CHAMBER CHOIR OF ARMENIA

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published April 19, 2006

Armenian Voices
Pomegranate Music

At first glance, the 21 short selections that comprise this album make for a confusing hodge-podge of a repertoire. But then, the booklet states the purpose of the choir’s goals: to release Armenian classics; to bring contemporary works, both well-known and obscure, to Armenian audiences; to create a new choral genre that combines mime and song. The first half mixes old and new works by European composers, such as Britten writing for 14th century lyrics, and other works by Purcell, Poulenc, and Ravel. The choir then sings seven selections by Komitas, the famous Armenian composer. The album closes with several modern tunes, including Gershwin’s arrangement of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” and the Beatles’ “Michelle,” the latter being the most incongruous choice. The 24-member choir—some voices are featured in Atom Egoyan’s recent Ararat—are all young and blend meticulously. On this level it’s a treat to have Armenian works presented in this manner. The other selections are also worthwhile, even if not as distinctly Armenian in character.