- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
April 16, 2004

True to Tango: Local quintet brings South American sound to Yerevan

Argentina came to Armenia last Sunday on the music of a quintet impassioned by the compositions of tango maestro Astor Piazzolla.
The quintet formed a couple months ago out of appreciation for Piazzolla.

The music was emphatically and devoutly loyal to the composer, but the musicians were all local. And the effect was a rare chance for the Yerevan audience at Aram Khachaturyan Hall of the Opera House to experience the peculiar taste of tango.

The music created by a unique combination of piano, guitar, contrabass, violin and accordion presented the audience with 90 minutes of tango rhythms and a mood of raving circles.

Armen Babakhanyan (piano), Hakob Jaghatspanyan (guitar), Varazdat Khachumyan (violin), Gevorg Gasparyan (accordion) and Khachatur Savzyan (contrabass) – winners of international laureates – performed Piazzolla works prepared for quintet and played for the first time in Armenia.

The idea of performing the works of the composer known to few people in Armenia was born a long time ago.

“For the first time I heard the works of Piazzolla in 1992 and from that day on the desire to play his works gave me no rest. But how? With who?” say pianist Babakhanyan.

Later it turned out that there were others in Yerevan who dreamed of playing the works of Piazzolla full of stormy moods. The musicians also infected producer Nika Babayan with this idea and only two months ago the quintet was formed.

“The ensemble is unique not only from a style point of view but also from the point of view of human features,” says Nika Babayan. “It is not enough to be a good, professional musician to play this music. One has to live for it, to feel the one next to you with your body and thought, to live from the inside while sitting.”

According to Jaghatspanyan they succeeded in having a spiritual connection among the group, since they were inspired with music and even the rehearsals that lasted for only several weeks were of great pleasure and encouragement for them.

“This music attracts me with the fact that it’s full of surprises,” says guitarist Jaghatspanyan. “I never plan anything in life and I’m also not going to live in accordance to some plan. The same is in music; you have to keep on evoking unexpected emotions in the soul of the audience.”

Transferring emotions to their audience .

The musicians were living for their music and transferring their emotions to the audience. Babakhanyan’s delicate touches reminded of light dance steps of tango and it seemed that Gasparyan held a partner rather than the accordion as he danced on waves of music. Jaghatspanyan’s guitar was passionate, rhythmic and melodious at the same time, complementing Khachumyan’s delicate touches that coiled in the air like a silk ribbon.

“I’ve heard Piazzolla many times,” says Argentinean singer Juan Puglieseno, who now studies at State Conservatory in Yerevan. “We used to live on the same street in opposite houses. But during this performance I had some divine feelings, it was perfect.”

The controversial and influential composer Piazzolla left an unusual repertoire of tangos, songs for tangos, music for movies, pieces for guitar and flute, for chamber and other groups.

“Whatever we performed during the concert is a small part of Piazzolla’s creative heritage. We are going to reveal for the audience the world of tango full of emotions,” says Babakhanyan.

According to producer Babayan the quintet will also hold concerts in July and September, but with new works which will be accompanied by dance.

“The musicians are preparing a large-scale and interesting program which includes tango melodies of its early period up to now. Tours and many surprises for the audience are awaiting,” promises Babayan.

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Not Opposed to Blessing

Before all hell broke lose in the center of Yerevan the next day, His Holiness Garegin II offered blessings to worshippers attending Easter services. Roads linking Echmiadsin and the Holy See to Yerevan have been blocked, even on the Holy Day, to discourage travel to the capital for political rallies.



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