The Araxes river has shaped the cultures unique to the Transcaucasus and provides the inspirational backdrop for the A.G.A Trio, who continue their quest of re-interpreting the musical histories and shared connections of these lands.
Araxes sees the A.G.A Trio continue their exploration of the ancient history of the South Caucasus and Anatolia, highlighting how the diverse musical traditions of these regions have evolved. From Armenia, Georgia and Turkey respectively, Arsen Petrosyan, Mіkaіl Yakut and Deniz Mahir Kartal draw from their rich musical backgrounds to reinterpret the ancient melodies of these intertwined lands. Each instrument, the kaval, duduk and accordion, common in their respective countries, brings a distinct voice, which, when brought together create an enchanting and harmonious union of their respective traditions.
This, their second album, is fittingly entitled Araxes after the Araxes river which flows through the Transcaucasus. Known for its meandering course and stunning beauty, the Araxes has provided a lifeline for the communities thriving along its banks for centuries. Its waters have borne witness to the rise and fall of civilizations, echoing ancient melodies and carrying the stories of diverse cultures.
Inspired by this iconic river and its majestic mountainous surroundings, the trio embark on a musical journey which in their words, “brings together the haunting melodies of Armenia, the lively folk tunes of Georgia, and the rhythmic pulse of Anatolia, taking you on a captivating journey through the heart of this culturally rich region.”
Each member of the trio has contributed their own beautifully crafted compositions for the album. The opening track ‘On The Road’, was composed by Arsen Petrosyan, who has become a leading proponent of the Armenian duduk, following in the footsteps of the great Djivan Gasparian and his mentor Gevorg Dabaghyan. Having performed all over the world, this opening piece is inspired by Arsen’s joy of being on the road and embarking on new adventures.
Next up is the heartfelt ‘Dark Elf’ which in the words of the writer Mikail Yakut is “a song for the individuals and cultures that have been marginalized and oppressed throughout history.” Of Georgian descent, Mikail’s sublime accordion playing reflects his many influences from the traditional music of Anatolia, the Caucasus and Eastern Europe to classical music and jazz. The penultimate track ‘Kavkasiuri’ is another fine example of his versatility. Something of a Caucasian tango, it’s a blend of passionate melodies and intricate rhythms that capture the very essence of the Caucasus.
Deniz Mahir Kartal is a true multi-instrumentalist who has performed and studied traditional Anatolian music since the age of five. On Araxes, Mahir plays the kaval, an instrument synonymous with his Anatolian homeland. His own compositions beautifully recount memorable experiences of his life, such as ‘Dancing Horses’, drawn from a chance encounter with a herd of wild horses, along with ‘Wind Of Araxes’, a piece about Mahir’s visit to the Ani ruins in Kars province on the Armenian border with Turkey.
The closing track ‘Shalakho/Kintauri/Karabağ’ provides a fitting collaborative conclusion to the album. This dance, known by the different names of Shalakho in Armenia, Kintauri in Georgia, and Karabağ in Turkey, serves as a cultural bridge that unites the diverse communities across Anatolia and the South Caucasus.