Armenian pianist Sofya Melikyan has assembled a dazzling program of stylistically and geographically diverse pieces by 20th-century female composers for this disc. It opens with the sole Piano Sonata by Tatar-Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina, whose music is imbued with a deep devotion to Russian Orthodox Christianity. Composed in 1965, it employs extended techniques, chromaticism and percussive tone clusters to hypnotic and captivating effect.
Geghuni Chitchyan studied at the Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan, Armenia, returning for a lengthy teaching career there. Armenian Bas-Reliefs is a suite of five lively miniatures strongly influenced by Armenian folk traditions, incorporating local motifs and modal harmonies. Paris-based Kaija Saariaho’s Prelude, composed in 2007, “seems to pay homage to a lineage of French music ranging from spectralism to impressionism,” as Jorge Fernández Guerra observes in his liner notes, with waterfalls of notes cascading in timbral droplets. Raquel Quiaro is a Venezuelan composer now based in Madrid. Her Cluster Suite shares stylistic elements with Gubaidulina’s Sonata and Saariaho’s shimmering textures, concluding this superb program beautifully.
Melikyan’s performances are commanding, virtuosic and sensitive to the particular compositional nuances of each composer, making this a most impressive release.