In a weekly guide to the best classical music on CD and online, The Guardian’s classical music critic Fiona Maddocks recommends the Komitas: Divine Liturgy CD – the recording of the concert version of the liturgy released by Delos Music earlier this month.
“A pioneer ethnomusicologist, Komitas incorporated Armenian church and folk traditions into his own work, and completed his Divine Liturgy in 1915 just before his arrest as part of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey,” The Guardian writes.
“The aim of Komitas: Divine Liturgy, sung by the Latvian Radio Choir, conducted by Sigvards Kļava, is to make this haunting, radiant music performable in concert, as well as within ritual,” the author says.
Earlier this week the CD was given a “5-star review” by The Independent.
“This recording by the superb Latvian Radio Choir is in a new arrangement for mixed voices: it has wonderful grace and is shot through with echoes of the folk music on which Komitas drew for his inspiration,” The Independet said in a review.
Supported by the Armenian Embassy in Latvia, the American Delos company released an 80-minute CD of the concert version of the Holy Liturgy by Komitas on the 150th birth anniversary of the composer.
This version has been arranged and edited by Armenian composer Vache Sharafyan. In his arrangement, the added colors of female voices, which increase the beauty of the work initially written for a male choir.
The recording of the Liturgy was preceded by a concert at St. Hovhannes Church, the most ancient church in Riga, on September 20, 2019. The concert was performed by Latvian Radio Choir and Armenian soloists Hovhannes Nersisyan and Armen Badalyan and was conducted by Sigwards Klyava.
The accompanying booklet includes introductory words by Armenia’s Ambassador to Latvia Tigran Mkrtchyan and composer Vache Sharafyan, as well as Komitas’ autobiography. It also includes the entire Armenian text of the Liturgy in Latin transliteration, as well as the English translation.