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Levant / Amici Chamber Ensemble

Glazunov / Amici Chamber Ensemble
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 22655   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alexander GlazunovSergei ProkofievGeorge GurdjieffGayané Chebotaryan,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



LEVANT Amici C Ens; Benjamin Bowman (vn 1 ); Stephen Sitarski (vn 2 ); Steven Dann (va 2 ) ATMA 2655 (66:03)


GLAZUNOV 1,2 Rêverie Orientale. PROKOFIEV 1,2 Overture on Hebrew Themes. Read more GURDJIEFF/DE HARTMANN Armenian Song. Sayyid Chants and Dances: Nos. 10, 29. CHEBOTARYAN 1 Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello. AL-WADI 1 Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello: II. Burlesque; Allegro. IV: Adagio-Moderato-Adagio. TAJ?EVI? 7 Balkan Dances for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. ABOU-KHALIL 1 Arabian Waltz. GOLIJOV Levante (Fantasy on a chorus from La passion según San Marcos )


This is a strange yet wonderful disc of music from the Middle East and environs, or influenced by the same. In fact, the only non-Middle Eastern composers here are Glazunov, Prokofiev, Taj?evi?, and Golijov, yet all four used music from the region as a basis for these compositions. I found Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes to be a particularly attractive and almost out-of-character composition for him, but as the CD goes on you’ll soon find yourself captivated by the music here.


Perhaps the only pieces one can honestly call transcriptions are the ones by George Gurdjieff, since he did not know how to write music. His sacred dances, which he called “movements,” were composed by ear and notated by his pupil, the Russian pianist Thomas de Hartmann. They are brief, highly atmospheric pieces influenced by the Caucuses and Central Asia.


One of the strongest pieces on this set, and a centerpiece to the album, is the Piano Trio by Solhi Al-Wadi (1934-2007), a Syrian conductor-composer born in Iraq who studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. After returning to Damascus, he founded a High Institute of Music and Theater, the Damascus Opera House, and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra. Serouj Kradjian, the pianist for the Amici Ensemble who also wrote the liner notes, suggests that the second movement is almost Shostakovich-like, but I found it less cynical than Shostakovich, while the last movement “encapsulates Al-Wadi’s brilliance as it morphs from a theme similar to a Syriac chant, which is first introduced in the piano, to the nervous laughter of fate” which “eventually calms down, only to fade away in peace and quiet.” It is a wholly remarkable piece, and one which will repay careful and repeated listening.


The fame of the late Yugoslav composer Marko Taj?evi? (1900-1984) rests largely, the notes say, on these seven Balkan Dances written in 1926. Originally for piano solo, they are transcribed here for clarinet trio and given an excellent performance. The third and last of the Gurdjieff pieces, Sayyid Chants and Dance No. 10, is one of the most hypnotic and fascinating pieces on this entire CD.


Rabih Abou-Khalil’s Arabian Waltz became something of a popular “hit” when it was recorded by a group led by cellist Yo-Yo Ma on one of his “Silk Road Project” albums, but to be honest Ma’s performance is incredibly stiff and lacking the exuberance of Abou-Khalil’s original recording. This version, arranged by Kradjian for string trio, has an out-of-tempo introduction not on the original, but when they swing into the odd-metered waltz, it sounds much more like the composer’s own recording. The CD ends with Osvaldo Golijov’s Levante, Fantasy on a chorus from La passion según San Marcos, a sprightly, percussive piece in the same vein as Abou-Khalil’s music. There are no Middle Eastern rhythms or harmonies here, but African-American and Cuban influences that make the music really swing. I’d love to hear Golijov’s complete St. Mark Passion someday if this is a representative sample. This is a wonderful album, not only eclectic and fun but a real musical education. Bravo, Amici!


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Pieces (2) for Orchestra, Op. 14: no 2, Rêverie orientale by Alexander Glazunov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
2.
Overture on Hebrew Themes for Clarinet, String Quartet and Piano in C minor, Op. 34 by Sergei Prokofiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; USA 
3.
Armenian Song by George Gurdjieff
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
4.
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello by Gayané Chebotaryan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written:   
5.
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello by Solhi Al-Wadithe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975 
6.
Sayyid Chant and Dance No. 29, for folk instruments by George Gurdjieff
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: Modern 
7.
Balkan Dances (7) for Clarinet, Cello and Piano by Marko Tajcevic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
8.
Sayyid Chant and Dance No. 10, for folk instruments by George Gurdjieff
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: Modern 
9.
Arabian Waltz by Rabih Abou-Khalil
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1995; Germany 
10.
Levante by Osvaldo Golijov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amici Chamber Ensemble

Sound Samples

2 Pieces, Op. 14: No. 2. Reverie orientale
Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34
Armenian Song
Piano Trio
Piano Trio: II. Burlesque: Allegro
Piano Trio: IV. Adagio - Moderato - Adagio
Music of the Sayyids and the Dervishes, Series 3: No. 29. Sayyid Chant and Dance
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 1. Con moto
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 2. Rustico
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 3. Vivo
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 4. Sostenuto e cantabile
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 5. Allegro ritmico
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 6. Allegretto
7 Balkanskih igara (7 Balkan Dances) (arr. for clarinet trio): No. 7. Allegro quasi pesante
Music of the Sayyids and the Dervishes, Series 1: No. 10. Sayyid Chant and Dance
Arabian Waltz
Levante

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