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Apricots from Eden

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Album Review

Djivan Gasparyan gained international notoriety when Brian Eno reissued his I Will Not Be Sad in This World on his Opal label in 1979. That recording, with all of its haunting, deeply ethereal, and entrancing beauty, was recorded with only two duduks — an Armenian folk instrument that resembles the oboe — one for the melodic improvising and song structure, and one to accompany strictly as a drone. This album, recorded in 1995 and issued in 1996, is a much more classically oriented outing. It features not only Mr. Gasparyan accompanied by another duduk player — Vachik Avakian — but also by a percussionist, Levon Arshakling, on the d'hol. The musical types here are much more varied as well. Produced by the celebrated Richard Hagopian, the set begins with a wedding song, "Taran Taran." The time signatures float in Armenian music, and in the intermittent times they are fixed, it is almost impossible to nail them down. Following is a series of dance tunes, but not in the celebratory sense. These are ritualistic dances and are performed ceremonially. The soundtrack that this music provides is solemn, lonely, and sketched, as the moon through clouds. When Mr. Gasparyan and company move into more celebratory territory, as they do in the love song medley "Yerevan Bagh Em Arel" and "Yes Poujour" and on the folk dance "Halay," they leave their solemnity behind, but the songs themselves becomes a kind of poetry, formal, heartfelt, and full of an elusive grandeur that is central to Eastern European music that has been touched by Asian musical systems. In sum, this is as fine a recording as Mr. Gasparyan's earlier effort, and in some ways more engaging. It should not be missed.


Born: 1929 in Solag, Armenia

Genre: World

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The acknowledged master of the Armenian reed instrument known as the duduk, Djivan Gasparayan was born just outside of the nation's capital city of Yerevan, first picking up the instrument at age six. After joining the Tatool Altounian National Song and Dance Ensemble in 1948, his first professional engagement was as a soloist with the Yerevan Philharmonic Orchestra; Gasparayan later went on tour extensively throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, and in 1973 was the first...
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Apricots from Eden, Djivan Gasparyan
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