Isabel Bayrakdarian is a certified classical music diva today, an excellent Mozartian, Handelian, songs and lieder recitalist and overall a very bright star in the current line-up of young sopranos. And this is how she started her recorded career- with a disc of Armenian liturgical music.
For me it is actually very refreshing to listen to songs in language that I don't understand at all- and a nice break from the usual Latin, German, and my native ones- but at the same time, knowing that they are sung by someone who understands the texts and has a spiritual connection to them is a nice bonus. (And if you want to explore the meaning behind the sounds, the original Armenian texts and translations are included in the CD booklet...) It's also a new musical experience to my ears- I am used to certain melismatic forms of Indian music, and Soeur Marie Keyrouz records of Byzantine chants, yet this music still sounds quite exotic to me. And, at all times, very beautiful.
Like Gregorian chant in its pure form, it would get somewhat monotonous, if it wasn't for Bayrakdarian's heartfelt delivery. I find that the opening song is my favourite and often end up listening to it over and over again, but the whole album is very addictive. Not all the songs have the same joyous rapture feel- some are melancholy tinged, some are both at the same time. You need to listen to this music to appreciate its strange charms. It's beautiful and deeply spiritual, all in one. It is certainly Sacred Joy for my ears.