Often referred to as Hawaii’s van Gogh, Arman Manookian’s short life was filled with hardship and tragedy before his death by suicide in 1931 at the age of 27. Born in Turkey in 1904, he was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, and he immigrated to the United States in 1920 at the age of 16. His paintings are known for their unique abstractions of colors and flamboyant fantasies of ancient Hawai‘i.
Four of Manookian’s murals serve as the inspiration and title for each movement of the work. The piece begins with Red Sails (1927), a vibrant painting active with scavenging activity. A series of sail-like figurations are woven through cadenza-like passages with quick musical changes depicting the busy scenes of ancient canoe sailing and cultivation.
The Arrival of Captain Cook (1927) a vibrant depiction of first contact, brings together a drum like ostinato in quintuple meter intermixed with interruptions. The ostinato overtime transforms into a knotted ostinato, a kind of translation error in response to the trepidation and exhilaration expected during first contact.
A male and female set in the foliage of paradise is the subject of Hawaiian Boy and Girl (1927). Featuring the flute and cello, a tender story of companionship is told through shifting musical moods.
Manookian’s final painting, Flight of the Flamingos (1931) features the piano with capricious upward and downward figurations emulating flight that concludes with lively episodes of rustic and folk-like dances.
December 17, 2017: Dolce Suono Trio, Philadelphia, PA, USA
December 11, 2016: Dolce Suono Trio, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Flute, Cello and Piano
Dolce Suono Trio
This piece was made possible by a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation
Decemeber 11, 2016
Dolce Suono Trio
Mimi Stillman, flute
Nathan Vickery, cello
Charles Abramovic, piano
Curtis Institute of Music
Philadelphia, PA, USA