String Quartet No.2 “Kronos”

DV 10736 32 Pages Contemporary


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(b Yerevan29 Jan 1945). Armenian composer. He studied composition at the Melikian Music College with Bagdasarian (1963–7) and then at the Yerevan Conservatory with Eghiazarian (1967–72). In 1972 he began to teach harmony at the Babadjanian Music College and in 1981 orchestration and composition at the Yerevan Conservatory. He became a member of the Armenian Composers’ Union in 1973, and of the Association of Contemporary Music in 1990. In 1993 he was awarded the Khachaturian Prize for Parable for chamber orchestra. Zohrabian is one of the leading figures in late 20th-century new Armenian music, and his works have been regularly performed in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Minsk, the Baltic States and Transcaucasus as well as in festivals in Bratislava, Venice, Cologne (all 1987), Glasgow, London, Paris (all 1989), Seoul (1990), Zagreb, Duisburg (1991) and Zürich (1992 and 1993). Zohrabian’s stylistic formation took place under the influence of Boulez and Ligeti but also the harmonic and modal practices of Komitas. This diatonic vein and an urge to bring together new methods and choral traditions typical of early Armenian monody (with modal variation) conditioned the originality of his serial method. His interests have focused on chamber music, with and without the voice. Irrespective of the absence of broader stylistic evolution, each work follows its own compositional logic. One of the most striking of the early works – Boomerang Games (1973–4) – is based on variation principle. The instrumental ensemble sets up a complex game of symmetrically reflected or juxtaposed rhythms. Metro-rhythmic variation, syncopation and rests effect general stylistic mobility, disturbing the periodicity of time. The pointilliste and rhythmic mosaic of Boomerang Games (which was performed at the Centre Georges Pompidou by the Ensemble InterContemporain under Méfano) continues in the two cello sonatas composed in 1976 and 1980. From Elegy (1979) onwards, the composer developed a meditative aesthetic in which slow tempi are enhanced by glissandi and the microtonic possibilities of a two-part motif. The combination of external stasis with dynamic ornamental development is reminiscent of instrumental improvisations found in eastern music. The lyricism of the Elegy was further developed throughout the 1980s, especially in An Offering to Metsarents: Metsarents was an Armenian symbolist poet of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries whose work is often set by Zohrabian. Having left a violin concerto uncompleted at the end of the 1980s due to the earthquake and political upheaval in Armenia, Zohrabian settled down to a productive period in the 1990s with Parable (1992), a work of refined introspection. Largely breaking free from his previous confessional vein, he tended towards communication of analytic reflection and spiritual illumination.

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