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Judgement of this titanic performance and world premiere recording is obviously secondary to the existence of the work itself, the first large-scale sacred work to memorialise the Armenian massacres of 1916. Krouse has – perhaps following Benjamin Britten in the War Requiem – not strictly followed the liturgical form of the traditional Armenian Mass, but has interspersed poetry, mostly by writers little known in the west, and devices like the offstage trumpets of ‘Interlude II: Moon of the Armenian Tombs’. This clearly was a key moment in the cultural life of the large Armenian diaspora in Los Angeles, and to rate it according to ordinary aesthetic standards is to fall somewhere between cultural appropriation and just missing the point. It’s an extraordinary piece, which manages, for all its scale and powerful orchestration, to seem quiet and inward to the point of intimacy. An astonishing achievement.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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