The 1915-1917 Ottoman genocide of the Armenians was the beginning of Komitas' tragic period which was marked by psychic trauma and artistic loss. In April 1915, with other Armenian intellectuals and artists, Komitas was arrested and deported to the interior of the Empire. While Komitas was spared the fate of his friends, upon his return to Constantinople he found his life's work -- manuscripts, research findings on the 'khaz' notation system (Armenian neumatic notation of the eleventh century) and his library -- in total disarray. A full accounting of his manuscripts, including his research notes and preliminary findings on the 'khaz' system, has so far eluded scholars.
Conceived as a capella for male chorus, "Divine Liturgy" is a monumental work which celebrates the enduring qualities of the Armenian 'melos'. It is inspired by Komitas' studies of the Armenian 'khaz' and his research in Armenian vocal traditions. It is the fullest expression of Komitas' lifelong preoccupation with the creation of a national music whose sources are at once secular and sacred, and which is rooted in the toil of the Armenian peasant and the aspirations to religious transcendence.
This first digital recording of "Divine Liturgy" was made in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1988.
Reviews"Both a sacred and sensuously seductive composition ... polyphonic lines divided among the sections of the chorus, liberal use of canon, shifting harmonies behind leading melodies, and a diversity of tone colors created by striking combinations of voices and by vocalise." - Stereophile