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Eduard Aslanovich ABRAMIAN (1923-1986)
Twenty-Four Preludes for Piano
Mikael Ayrapetyan (piano)
rec. Grand Concert Hall of Moscow State University of Culture and Arts, Moscow, Russia, 27-28 January 2012.
World premiŤre recording
GRAND PIANO GP 665 [60:37]

Grand Pianoís declared aim is to record the piano music of a whole host of less well known or completely unknown composers. This release is adequate proof of the fine job they are making of it for we have Armenian composer Eduard Abramianís 24 preludes which have never before been recorded. It is the third disc of Armenian composers from Grand Piano that has come my way in the last few weeks following those of Babadjanian and Bagdasarian). This certainly shows the label's commitment to the project. What is particularly pleasing is that it opens up music from Armenia and shows that there is lot more to it than we had previously thought when the only names we knew representing that country were Khachaturian and Arutiunian or Alan Hovhaness the Armenian-American composer.

It seems that Abramianís total output was relatively small and that the piano dominates which is hardly surprising when you learn that he was a formidable pianist which is attested to by these preludes. The booklet notes point out that in fact these preludes explore all the keys bar two since two are repeated, an interesting fact but one that certainly does not detract from what is a set of the most appealing piano music. As an active member of the Armenian Composerís Union he participated in meetings all over the country which enabled him to become familiar with the traditional music of every region. These 'voices' he incorporated into his own. Indeed you only have to be able to recognise the Armenian flavour in music to hear it in each and every piece here. There is no doubt that it adds to their intrinsic attraction. However, there is never a sense that Abramian is wallowing in nostalgia in these pieces but simply that native Armenian folk music is a rich vein to be mined in the creation of original material.

As the late Malcolm MacDonald rightly says in his notes it is difficult to pick out highlights from such a ďrichly-woven musical tapestryĒ though he does select six for special mention. Any would do to emphasise Abramianís easy facility to write a good tune. All of them are straightforward and honest with a beguiling simplicity and without any sort of artifice. I found no.3 a particularly good representative of Armenian traditional dance while no.4, which he dedicated to his mother, is an extremely affecting and emotional piece better able to express love than words could ever do. Shades of Rachmaninov are to be discerned when Abramian sounds Ďromanticí as he does in nos. 5, 6 and 13 but one has the impression that he does not often expressly set out to be romantic in that way. His no.21 is a much faster piece, full of high octane interest as is his rhythmically complex no.23. Every note in each prelude is genuinely felt and honestly expressed. I found the disc an absolute pleasure and a joy to listen to from beginning to end.

How much more music by Abramian remains to be discovered? I donít know but these lovely preludes are a brilliant introduction and any lover of piano music will find this CD a thoroughly rewarding experience. Mikael Ayrapetyan plays all of it with due reverence for his compatriotís music as he did with Bagdasarianís set of 24.

Steve Arloff