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Giya Kanchelli: Little Ember

Release Date: 11/18/2008 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 969543   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giya Kancheli
Performer:  Christine RallElliot RileyKenneth CoonBruce Weinberger,   ... 
Conductor:  Klaas StokNika Memahishvili
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raschčr Saxophone QuartetNetherlands Chamber ChoirChildren's Choir,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KANCHELI Amao Omi. 1 Little Imber 2 Klass Stok, cond; 1 Nederlands CCh; 1 Raschèr Sax Qrt; 1 Nika Memanishvili (kbd, cond); 2 Mamuka Gaganidze (voc); 2 Zaza Miminoshvili (gtr); 2 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Matrix Ens; 2 Rustavi Ch; 2 Children’s Ch 2 ECM 1812 (62:06)

Georgian Giya Kancheli (b. 1936) is a member of what I have come to call the post-Shostakovich club. Others include Georgy Sviridov, Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Valentine Sylvestrov. The stylistic diversity found among these composers is staggering, belying the notion that music develops along clearly delineated lines proffered by after-the-fact musicologists. Superficially, Kancheli’s music recalls the tintinnabulation style of Arvo Pärt—austere in its almost medieval sparseness, harmonically simple, indeed almost rudimentary, and extremely slow in its harmonic rhythm. Almost bereft of forward motion, it is a meditative music that locks the listener into a seemingly never-ending present, and that, in the happiest of instances, frees one from the stifling preoccupations and demands of everyday life. Kancheli, like Schnittke, has a keen ear for instrumental sonority. In Amao Omi , composed in 2005, his highly original use of a saxophone quartet is particularly felicitous. He revels in the extremes of its compass, dynamic range, and coloristic possibilities—sometimes juxtaposing it against the purely white-sounding chorus, other times blending into it. In Little Imber , composed in 2003, he utilizes a far more diverse ensemble of instruments, once again recalling Alfred Schnittke in its deft deployment of timbres. Kancheli’s melodic essence consists of repeated snippets of seemingly mundane and half-forgotten tunes that weave in and out of the hymn-like texture, variously imparting a sense of nostalgia and ambivalence for a time or a place that no longer is.

Georgia is a place where the European West meets the Asian East. It at once embodies elements of each, and is neither. Dislocated by political and social turbulence in his homeland, Kancheli left Tiblisi in 1991, settling in Berlin. In 1995 he journeyed to Antwerp, where he currently resides.

Amao Omi means, in Kancheli’s native language, “senseless war.” Its text consists of almost random words and phrases related to nature, landscape, culture, and the traditions of his birthplace. The lack of printed texts in this release reflects Kancheli’s wishes. According to him, the words should be totally subsumed into the music. The result is a haunting and intensely moving 26 minutes of transcendent music.

Little Imber was inspired by a visit to Imber, a British village nestled in the Salisbury Plain. During the Second World War, it was evacuated and requisitioned by the American forces as a training ground for street fighting. To this very day, its buildings are marked by war damage, reminiscent of Kancheli’s war-torn Georgia. It is still a ghost town. Here the performing forces, utilizing among its vocal resources a children’s chorus that projects an aura of innocence in a far-from-innocent world, are more complex than those found in Amao Omi , but the results are the same—music that is intensely moving in ways that I am hard put to describe, let alone define.

These performing forces are superb. Manfred Eicher has an uncanny ability to illuminate contemporary, and not so contemporary, music in the most compelling ways—enlisting the finest practitioners, giving them plenty of rehearsal space, and capturing their efforts in splendid sound. He is on a mission to produce as close to definitive performances as possible, and here he has achieved yet another success.

This is my first exposure to the music of Giya Kancheli, who I see from this experience as being an uncompromising humanist in an increasingly inhuman world, and one endowed with a deeply moving musical language. The result is an offering that goes far beyond mere Want List status.

FANFARE: William Zagorski
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Works on This Recording

Amao Omi by Giya Kancheli
Performer:  Christine Rall (Soprano Saxophone), Elliot Riley (Alto Saxophone), Kenneth Coon (Baritone Saxophone),
Bruce Weinberger (Tenor Saxophone)
Conductor:  Klaas Stok
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Raschčr Saxophone Quartet,  Netherlands Chamber Choir
Written: 2005 
Length: 26 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Little Imber by Giya Kancheli
Performer:  Mamuka Gaganidze (Voice), Mamuka Gaganidze (Voice Box), Nika Memahishvili (Keyboard),
Zaza Marjanishvili (Guitar), Zaza Miminoshvili (Guitar)
Conductor:  Nika Memahishvili
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Children's Choir,  Rustavi Choir,  Matrix Ensemble
Written: 2003 
Length: 35 Minutes 44 Secs. 

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