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Album Review: Tributes
Hovig Nassanian
Cover image of the album Tributes by Hovig Nassanian
Hovig Nassanian
2023 / Necessary Kuriosity Music
38 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Tributes is the third piano album from Hovig Nassanian and the eleven tracks on the album are tributes to special people and events in his life, past and present. Hovig's first two albums, Peaceful and Peaceful Christmas, were released in 2021. I reviewed the second album and loved it - almost as much as I love Tributes! Quoting Hovig:

"Tributes has been in the making in my head for many months. This album is by far the most emotional, intimate, and thought-through one so far. Each piece has a part of my heart in it, and I've been very intentional about each note, nuance, and delivery. There are some 'hidden' motifs and undertones in most of the tracks which only some segments of the listeners will recognize, depending on their culture, background, and familiarity with my other albums and compositions.”

An Armenian pianist/composer who was born in Lebanon, Hovig has been living and teaching in Cyprus for most of his adult life. He started playing the piano at the age of 4 and composed his first piece in his early teens. He has written four musicals in collaboration with colleagues and has produced many others. He has also released several singles and music videos with collaborating artists.

Tributes begins with "8998," and is what Hovig calls a "tongue-in cheek tribute to the official phone number we had to send a text message to for permission to leave our homes during the COVID lockdowns in Cyprus." Bright and lively, it's a fun opening to the album. Be sure to watch the YouTube video for "8998," too! "Heaven's Reception (Grandma Maida's Tribute)" is a tribute to Hovig's maternal grandmother and is a "visualization" of the reception she received in heaven. Quite formal and classical at the beginning, the second half has passages that are joyous and celebratory. The contrasts are fascinating! "April 24" is the date when the Armenians commemorate the deaths of 1.5 million of their people during World War I at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Hovig composed the piece twenty years ago as part of a larger project that didn't materialize, so he has now recorded it as a tribute to the sacrifice and suffering of his people. Deeply emotional and incredibly beautiful, it's a favorite. "Mè Mèmè - 4 Variations (Grandma Vehanoush's Tribute)" is a theme and variations on a melody that Hovig's paternal grandmother used to sing about a shepherd taking care of his sheep. He begins with the simple original theme and then plays the four variations he created on that theme - all very different from each other. "For a Time Like This" is the main theme for a musical that Hovig and Daniel Chorbadjian wrote in 2000 called "Esther." Hovig arranged this poignant and moving piano solo as a tribute to those "who take a stand for justice." "Wanted - The Truth" is another favorite, at least in part because I share Hovig's frustration with trying to find the truth about so many things happening in today's world and how that confusion has divided people everywhere. Hovig says that the only lyrics that occurred to him while writing the piece are: "Longing for the day, when the Truth will set us free." Amen! The closing track, simply titled "Anna," is a wonderful tribute to Hovig's wife, "a pillar of support and encouragement in my life." Love and tenderness flow from every note of this piece and end the album with a sweet sigh.

Tributes is an inspiring listening experience from the first note to the last! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. Don't miss it!
February 11, 2023
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