Sofia Armenian Choir , Armenian Liturgy (Liturgie Arménienne)

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Armenian Liturgy (Liturgie Arménienne)

Sofia Armenian Choir
A completely unselfconscious mix of church and mosque.

Another church album? What could be so good about that? Well, quite a lot, as it happens. Apart from a superb choir with full, majestic cathedral reverb (of course) the music is marvellously, subtly different. Armenia is very close to the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East and its Orthodox Church music has absorbed elements of both. Listen, for instance, to the soprano on "Cherubic Hymn" or "Amen, Holy Father"; that vocal ornamentation comes directly from Arab classical music, giving an exotic, almost alien feel of church music refracted through a prism. Indeed, at times the tenor on "Spiritual Dialogue" seems to recall the wail of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer more than a priest and his flock. There's a crisp purity to the singing throughout, but it's the completely unselfconscious mix of cultures that truly sets this apart, and helps make it an intensely spiritual experience.