July 30, 2005, Saturday

Reviews music

By Mark Hudson

Djivan Gasparyan
Moon Shines at Night
All Saints, pounds 12.99

Hossein Alizadeh, Jivan Gasparyan
Endless Vision
Hermes/Alternative, pounds 13.99

It can be both a blessing and a burden for a musician to embody a
universal mood or feeling. Take Armenia's Djivan (also spelt Jivan)
Gasparyan. Once heard, the plaintive sound of his duduk is
immediately identifiable. Half-flute, half-oboe, its mixture of
reediness and luminous breathiness evokes a piercing melancholy - a
sense of luxuriant, almost masochistic desolation - that has been a
favourite with soundtrack composers from Gladiator to Hotel Rwanda.

While this must have done wonders for his bank balance, it has also
obscured his importance both as an innovator and a traditional
musician with more than 50 years of concert experience.

Described on its first release in 1992 as "one of the most beautiful
albums ever made", Moon Shines at Night teases folk melodies into
semi-improvised rhapsodies, with multi-tracking drawing out an
extraordinary array of sounds. Incorporating fragments of live
performance, it builds into a seamless stream of consciousness that
is at once ineffably mournful and strangely uplifting.

Recorded live in Teheran, Endless Vision unites Gasparyan with
Hossein Alizadeh, master of the jangling shourangiz lute, on an
Iranian import of real quality. The ensemble playing is intricate and
austere - and suffused with a brooding and quite genuine spiritual