Chant Byzantin is the first album by Lebanese nun and musicologist Soeur Marie Keyrouz. Prior to the arrival of Keyrouz, Western scholars and listeners alike hadn't paid much heed to Middle Eastern Christian chant, perhaps owing to its obscurity and strongly Arabic flavor. Chant Byzantin pretty much took the West by surprise upon its arrival in 1989, not only with the apparently ancient repertoire it represents, but also due to Keyrouz's own incredible virtuosity; her ability to sing the tiniest intervals in rapid flourishes, notes that are difficult for most singers to hear, let alone sing. Chant Byzantin is one of the "purest" of her discs, featuring Keyrouz backed by a small chorus which mostly sings drones, as Keyrouz weaves delicate and complex figurations in the foreground. It makes no sense to evaluate Chant Byzantin along the lines of conventional critical standards; Keyrouz is practically alone in her particular musical pursuits, and one either likes her singing a great deal or doesn't get it. Keyrouz's singing is strongly Arabic-inflected with a virtuoso's ability to handle microtones, and is driven by an internal spiritual energy that seems inexhaustible. One of her books is entitled Je Chante Dieu (I Sing God) and, indeed, by the end of Chant Byzantin, an enthusiastic listener will be hard-pressed to qualify that this is not, in fact, so.
AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis
|Innani'Uchachidu khidraka - Exapostilarion de l'Office de Mardi Sant|
|Tagaridh (excerpts from the Canon de Samedi Saint)|
|Christos anesti - Office Pascal|
Ode 9 on the canon of the Office of Easter Sunday (9th Ode du Canon de l'Office du Dimache de Pâques)