Lévon Minassian - The Doudouk: Beyond Borders
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Lévon Minassian and Friends
The Doudouk Beyond Borders
Long Distance

cd cover The doudouk is the soul of Armenian music. Its mournful moan embodies the sorrow and pathos of Armenia's history. Minassian, born into the close-knit Armenian community in Marseilles, is a virtuoso on the instrument. The doudouk, a member of the oboe family, has a narrow range (an octave and a third) and a softer sound than many other instruments of its classification. To master this challenging instrument takes exceptional finger and breath control.

Minassian has put together a collection of mostly traditional tunes and enhanced them with Turkish, South Indian, Algerian, and Western European instruments. The result is elegant, meditative, and elegiac. The opening track, "Hol Ara Yéze (Call of the Earth)," is deep and somber, with piano notes dropping like tears between the doudouk's sinuous lines. "Lousniag Kicher (Moonlight)" is a subtle, imitative duet between Minassian and Hervé Teboul on oud. Minassian's sister Roselyne lends her rich alto voice to "Odjaroum (Come Home)," creating an aching sense of longing. Gilles Andrieux barely touches the strings on his tempur on "Delé Yaman (Love Song)." The result is a soft, eerie howl that floats through the piece like a specter.

There is nothing on this disc that will set your toes to tapping, but that isn't the purpose here. While Minassian's ruminations are those of a sorrowful heart, the listener leaves not feeling dragged into the depths of despair, but with a quiet sense of having shared in a deep human truth. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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