Armenian Fingerprints: Komitas and Khachaturian in light of Armenian folk music

Published: Nov 22 2019

Author: ANM Media

The pianist Mariam Kharatyan presented the music of Aram Khachaturian and Komitas on November 13 at Sentralen hall in Oslo. This concert marked the release of the two albums – Aram Khachaturian - “Chamber Music” and Komitas - “Shoror” dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Komitas. The albums are the result of Kharatyan’s PhD Artistic Research project Armenian Fingerprints - interpreting the piano music of Komitas and Khachaturian in light of Armenian folk music, which she has started from 2015 and worked on until 2019 in the University of Agder in Kristiansand, in Norway.

“The whole project has been anchored on my inspiration from Armenian folk music, and further search for the pianistic possibilities, and the impact of the interplay between classical and folk music in my playing. I was curious about what interpretational possibilities might emerge in piano works of Komitas and Khachaturian when listening to Armenian folk music and responding to it through musical expression in classical pianism. During these years, I have performed nearly all major piano compositions of Khachaturian, started from miniature piano pieces to chamber compositions and arrangements from ballets, also the piano concerto. However, for this album, I have chosen the chamber music of Khachaturian, for I believe that these compositions transmit my idea and inspiration from the free, almost as improvisational timing in folk music, and together
with chamber trio or duo, having this close communication, aiming to achieve this free musical flow and expression in our playing”,-the pianist told ANM.

“Komitas' music has been the roots, my anchor, and the endless inspiration throughout the whole project. In my artistic search, the Yot Par (Seven Dances for piano), Msho Shoror, and the folk songs of Komitas were opening new perspectives in my piano playing. On the crossroads of folk and classical music, me together with Vigen Balasanyan performed (and recorded) selected folk songs of Komitas on the grand piano with traditional instruments duduk and blul, instead of voice”.

Mariam Kharatyan recorded the two albums during the autumn of 2018, in Kilden Teater og Konserthus in Kristiansand, in Norway. It took about a year until the release of the albums, which is presented by the prestigious Norwegian record label Simax Classics and Grappa.

In Aram Khachaturian, Chamber Music album is presented the Song-poem, the Dance for violin and piano, seldom performed and neglected composition of Khachaturian - the Sonata for violin and piano, the Trio for clarinet, violin and piano, the Lullaby and Adagio from ballets Gayaneh and Spartacus arranged by A. Pivazyan, and the Sabre Dance from Gayaneh ballet, arranged by R. Asatryan. I have recorded the compositions of this album together with violinist Adam Grüchot, clarinetist Stig Nordhagen, and cellist Leonardo Sesenna. In album Komitas, Shoror, I present the Seven Dances for piano - Yot Par, and Msho Shoror, and selected folk songs played on the piano together with Vigen Balasanyan on traditional instruments duduk and blul. The album is dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Komitas.

Despite living in Norway, the pianist plays Armenian music quite often. “In my concerts, I very often perform Armenian compositions, and if it is not included in the announced program, I always play Armenian music during the encores. The Armenian music, particularly the music of Komitas and Aram Khachaturian, has been the primary focus of mine, especially started from 2015, throughout my project Armenian Fingerprints.

The Norwegian audience is very enthusiastic and interested in Armenian music, and in general, about knowing more about our culture and history. The music of Komitas, Khachaturian and Babajanyan are of course the most familiar among Norwegians, and they also are familiar with the music of Tigran Hamasyan”.
Mariam Kharatyan’s upcoming concerts will be in other Norwegian cities too, as well as in Germany. “I am looking so much forward to perform in Yerevan during 2020”.

By Sona Khachatryan