Various Artists

Music of Armenia, Vol. 1: Sacred Choral Music

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The first installment of Celestial Harmonies' Music of Armenia. This album focuses on the ancient sacred choral music of the ancient home of Mt. Ararat. The recordings were performed by the Haissmavourk Choir at two notable locations, both with excellent acoustics. The first 19 tracks were recorded at the Geghard Monastery, traditionally the home of the spearhead which pierced Christ on the cross. The other five tracks were recorded at Echmiadzin Cathedral, site of a vision of Christ by Gregory the Illuminator which turned Armenia to become the first nation to declare itself Christian. The music itself is quite well performed, in the basic style of chants from Western Europe (Gregorian, etc), although it's performed in Grabar rather than Latin. The vocals carry beautifully in the sessions, providing a full texture of sound that's to be envied by any given Christian chant group. For the ethnological value, this album is worth its price, as the chants presented are perhaps some of the most ancient Western written music. For excitement, the album is probably lacking somewhat, given that it is comprised of chant. For relaxation purposes, the listener will have to decide on their own whether the album is worth its price or not. Pick it up as part of the box set, but only purchase it separately as an established fan of chant traditions.

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