Djivan Gasparyan

The Art of the Duduk

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Djivan Gasparyan is the master of the Armenian oboe, the duduk. Traditionally, its mournful tones are used as a freeform solo meditations, but this album adds synthesizer arrangements by Michel Bayan, as played by Arsen Tovmassian. The album begins with the exuberant "Sing for Me," and the soulful sounds are almost lost in the percussive environment. The lament style is captured, however, on "In Foreign Lands," a sorrowful mixture of broad symphonic strings, ocean waves, distant choir of lost souls. Because of the electronic percussion, the uptempo pieces ("Shogot-Shogot," "Gumri," and the dance medley) did not have the depth and authenticity of the laments, pieces that ably showcased the duduk's elongated wails. "Shepherd's Call" is dark and cavernous; then the sun seems to break cheerily through the clouds. "Lullaby," a waltz, is absolutely charming as the mournful duduk tries to keep a smiling face as the tempo accelerates. Gasparyan's tribute to his sister almost drowns in sorrow. I doubt there is another instrument, nor artist, who can communicate this emotion so eloquently.