Title - Armenian Songs for Children
Artist - Isabel Bayrakdarian
For those uninitiated, Lebanese-born, Canadian-Armenian-American soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is as celebrated for her beauty, dynamic presence, and style as for her strikingly multidimensional voice.
With this deeply personal project, she gathers a selection of haunting and poignant lullabies that draw on the memories and experiences of the Armenian people.
29 tracks trace an arc from the Ottoman Empire through the Genocide and beyond, with songs and transcriptions by the countrys beloved folk composer Gomidas Vartabed, Parsegh Ganatchian who joined the diaspora in Lebanon, and Ganatchians contemporary Mihran Toumajan.
For Isabel, these evocative songs span two centuries and five generations. Sung by her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother, and now to her own children, Isabels Armenian Songs have an appeal to children of all ages.
1-9 Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935)
10-14 Parsegh Ganatchian (1885-1967)
15-25 Mihran Toumajan (1890-1973)
Each and every song is a magical trip into a far away land, where if you close your eyes, and allow yourself to drift off, everything is bright, colorful, the children play, and everything is well with the world.
The songs included from the Vartabed section are: Six Childrens Songs, Five Lullaby Fragments, the simply breathtakingly impassioned Sleep My Child Lullaby, the storytelling of Dream, the call to the heavens of You Are Beautiful Lullaby from Agn, Childrens Prayer, the joyous Song of the Partridge, the playfully perky Little Wooden Horse, and The Swallow.
From the Ganatchian section we get: Bjingo, a truly hauntingly beautiful rendering of The Swallow, Serenade, the quietly delivered Nocturne, and then the delicately plucked magnificent of Sleep My Child Lullaby.
The last section is from Toumajan and includes: Swinging Song, Cradle Song Lullaby, Rocking Song, Bouncing Song, the playful bounce of The Scarecrow, Two Playsongs, the almost ethereal Two Lullabies, Rocking Song, I Sing To You, Collection of Alphabet Songs, and then Four Childrens Songs.
The collection is rounded out with some Traditional tracks, from various sources: Come, My Nightingale, Bouncing Song, Cradle Song and the earnest recounting of Rocking Song.
Isabel launched her professional career in Toronto with the Canadian Opera Company. From there, she went on to win numerous awards, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the first prize at Placido Domingos Operalia competition in 2000.
Debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, La Scala, the Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Salzburg Festival, among notable others, quickly followed.
She scored a notable success in the Lyric Opera of Chicagos world premiere production of William Bolcoms A View from the Bridge. Mozart became a specialty, from Zerlina in Don Giovanni to Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro to Pamina in The Magic Flute.
Her roles at Torontos Canadian Opera Company range from Glucks Euridice to Debussys Mlisande to Poulencs Blanche in Dialogues des Carmlites; and away from Canada, as Monteverdis Poppea in Barcelona, Handels Romilda (Serse) in Dresden, and Janceks Vixen in New York, Florence, and the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan.
Isabel was the featured vocalist on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack from the blockbuster film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyans Ararat.
She sang on the BBC-produced short film Holocaust: A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz, as well as her own Gemini-nominated film Long Journey Home, documenting her first visit to her ancestral homeland, Armenia. Isabel is the winner of four consecutive Juno Awards for Best Classical Album, and in 2018 her recording Mother of Light was nominated for a Juno Award.
Her recordings with orchestras include Henryk Greckis Symphony No.3 with John Axelrod conducting the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, released on the Sony Classical label, Gustav Mahlers Symphony No.2, with Michael Tilson-Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony, and Respighis Il Tramonto with Orchestre Symphonique de Laval.
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