This is a stunning recording. Isabel Bayrakdarian's voice is a wonderful clear soprano, rich and warm throughout its range and free of any roughness. Her long familiarity with this repertoire lets her shape each phrase beautifully and, apparently, effortlessly.
The disk derives from a concert that took place in Toronto in September, 2001 commemorating 1700 years of Christianity in Armenia. It consists of 18 pieces of liturgical music. In some Bayrakdarian sings a capella, but in most she is supported by a chamber orchestra. One is aware that this is not western music, but the modes in which it is written are just unusual enough to European ears to be a little exotic while remaining entirely accessible. It's not quite melodic, but not quite chant either. Bayrakdarian's melismas are always sensitive and subtle. The whole effect is soaring, haunting, ethereal, transporting, utterly wonderful.
This is a desert island disk for sure.