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Images of Armenia
Suite for symphony orchestra

ORCH: 2 flutes (II = piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 Bb clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets ("Romance" requires only 2), 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, triangle, tambourine, cymbal, bass drum.


"Images of Armenia" suite is a collection of five independent pieces for symphony orchestra written in 2005, with the exception of Capriccio, which was added a year later. Almost simultaneously during its creation a wind-ensemble version of the entire suite was prepared, at the suggestion of conductor Stephen Piazza of the Los Angeles Symphonic Winds.

Although his outlook remains essentially cosmopolitan, Manukyan's fascination with Armenian folk music has been the overwhelming inspiration in nearly all of his works.

“I wanted to compose a collection of symphonic pieces that would summarize the influence of Armenian folklore on my personal style”, Manukyan told a Glendale News-Press reporter during an interview on October 21, 2007.

The compositions from the suite may be performed independently, in which case their individual titles should be used.

The duration is approximately 20 minutes.

Analysis

Dance of Mountaineers is the longest and perhaps the most important piece in the suite. It has melodies, variations, developments, recapitulation and an effective coda.

The theme, introduced by the first violins and continued in the oboe and a tutti, sets off a distinctly Armenian rhythmic pattern with the timpani which then continues playing it through most of the piece.

The middle section opens with a clarinet cadenza, followed by a contrapuntal melody in the oboe and progresses into more development, supported by the refreshing sounds of the string pizzicato, stopped horns and muted trumpets.

Not quoted is a long-drone pianissimo accompaniment of strings in octaves and a doubling of the final bars in the example below.

When the initial theme eventually returns in the solo trumpet, it is accompanied in the lightest manner possible by the string section. With gentle trills and glissandi, the strings gradually take over the theme and pass it on to the loud and triumphant coda.

Fanfare of Nostalgia, is exactly what the title suggests. The loud and heavy brass fanfare provides the opening for a solo trumpet, which introduces a sad melody, soon to be taken over by a solo French horn, the strings and eventually the entire orchestra - a tutti that brings the piece back to the opening fanfare.

Capriccio, a rather challenging piece in the suite, is a lively dance with lush melodies of Eastern flavor. Its sharply accentuated rhythms, with many dotted figures, triplets, and colorful ornaments are best suited for its style which continues to showcase Armenian folkloric elements, arousing local association from the Armenian listener.

The compressed extract below illustrates a portion of the melody in middle section, prominent for the folkloric, quasi-contrapuntal ornaments:

Romance is a poetic movement, which, after the melancholic introduction, features an oboe solo for the first theme statement. Soon a solo flute joins, and the duet plays the theme which is then repeated in several variations until the work ends soon after the short middle section of the brass, playing a grand interlude. The Armenian influence is still present, although not in the straightforward forms as it is in the rest of the suite numbers. Even with the distinctive minor-third scale heard throughout the piece, it still remains more of an orchestral love-song than a folkloric andante.

Patriotic March is a lively, march-like piece with thick orchestration and driving rhythms. Instead of the expected 2/4, it uses a 4/4 meter to better accommodate its melodiousness. Here, too, one may find some contrapuntal writing which keep the composition in a unified shape, with crisp ornaments and static, military-style percussion.

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