Tigran Hamasyan’s fourth album, a vibrant solo recording drawing from the music and poetry of his native Armenia, further solidifies the acclaim the 24-year-old pianist has garnered since his teens. While demonstrating his monster chops, the emphasis here is on simple, captivating melodies—both traditional songs and original compositions, imbued with a sense of veneration and longing.
Hamasyan interprets “The Spinners,” a song recorded by mystic philosopher G.I. Gurdjieff and composer T. De Hartmann in the 1920s, with his unique, lyrical touch. The Armenian folksong “Kakavik (The Little Partridge)” is played in alternating tempos and oscillating temperaments. Based on a medieval religious Armenian hymn, “Mother, Where Are You?” resonates with an aching tenderness. Hamasyan expresses his love of poetry through “The Legend of the Moon,” a wistful original inspired by 20th-century poet Gegham Saryan. And on the melancholy “Longing” he sings two verses by renowned Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan, capturing a yearning for “my native forests ... calling me to come back.”
The pianist contributes vocals on several other tracks: His singing and whistling on the cascading “What the Waves Brought” skew otherworldly; the driving “Carnaval” is enhanced by wordless song and percussion. “Someday My Prince Will Come,” the lone jazz standard, is re-harmonized and re-imagined within the framework of the album’s concept and mood. Darker and more somber, it nonetheless maintains a sense of hopefulness.