The following review for the Latvian Radio Choir’s Komitas Divine Liturgy recording was sent from Quentin Skinner, a distinguished professor of Queen Mary University of London, and is shared with permission:
“I had previously known nothing about Komitas Vardapet. He is certainly a great composer. But one with a tragic life. It is terrible to learn that, although he survived the massacre of 1915, he was unhinged by the catastrophe, so that the Liturgy is his final work.
I was fascinated to learn that the work was originally intended only for a male-voice choir. The decision to use mixed-voice forces feels deeply right, as it gives the music such dynamic as well as tonal range. I thought that the three sections towards the end featuring the wonderful soprano soloist were among the most moving in the whole amazing piece.
It feels naïve to pick out individual glories from such a highly organized work, but some of the sections are so beautiful that they have an instant appeal. I found this particularly true of the brief Body of the lord and the thrilling Sanctus. The emotional range of the entire piece is remarkable. There is celebration, of course, and also thankfulness (especially the great tenor statement in 28). But above all I enjoyed the sense of peacefulness, above all in the deeply moving conclusion of the whole work.—Professor Quentin Skinner