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Tigran Hamasyan: New Era

Tigran Hamasyan

Of today’s most discussed piano prodigies, only Matt Savage was born in the United States. Eldar Djangirov is from Kyrgyzstan, Alessandro Lanzoni and Giovanni Guidi are from Italy, and Tigran Hamasyan was born in Armenia. Djangirov has the most mind-boggling chops; Guidi is the most adventurous; Lanzoni (although he is the youngest) has the most developed understanding of the classic jazz repertoire. Hamasyan is the best composer.

Hamasyan writes complex headlong blues like “Homesick” and then intensifies that complexity through improvisation while retaining an arc of form. For the title track, he conceives a promising musical nucleus, a call in two measures of suggestive piano/bass unison, a response in four measures of circling piano variations. Then he repeats the pattern into an incantation and then a crashing crisis. “Leaving Paris” is remarkable as a piercing personal reminiscence and concentrated node of minor-key lyricism, and more remarkable for the way Hamasyan’s transfigurations are all illuminating, with no wasted notes.

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