Giya Kancheli


Born: August 10, 1935; Tbilisi, Georgia  
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Giya Kancheli (born 1935) emerged into international fame as one of the country's composers who resisted the official pressure to conform to an approved realist style. Georgia has its own unique religious, folk, and classical music traditions. Georgian composers, and those of other "exotic" republics, were encouraged to add their regional traditions to the approved Russian style of classical music as a way of Read more appealing to the nationalism of all major Soviet regions.

Thus, Kancheli was able to study his musical roots as well as Western techniques when he entered the Tbilisi Conservatory in 1959. He studied composition with I. Tuskiya and remained there until 1963. After graduation, Kancheli began working as a freelance composer. He did not take an academic position or join a Soviet musical organization to support himself. He composed popular music in the Georgian folk style as well as a large amount of film music.

Meanwhile, he developed his own classical and symphonic styles, working toward an ideal that combined avant-garde ideas with elements of the most ancient Georgian religious and folk music, though it should be noted that he never directly quotes material in his concert works.

He wrote at least 38 film scores between 1964 and 1995 for Georgia-Film Studio and for Mos-Film, the main Russian studio. He found that Communist Party arts and music officials did not pay much attention to the style of film scores, and so he was frequently able to use some of his newest musical thought in these works. In addition, he wrote a considerable amount of incidental music for the director Robert Sturua and in 1971 became the music director of Sturua's own Rustavili Theater. His opera, Music for the Living (1984), was written in collaboration with Sturua.

A look at Kancheli's catalogue shows a change in the character of the titles of his compositions. The period ending in 1982 shows abstract titles predominating. Kancheli had joined fellow Russian composers like Shostakovich, Gubaidulina, Schnittke, Pärt, and Artyomov in cloaking his agenda in musical symbolism. But as openness (glasnost) became a Soviet policy, the works gained more overt titles, such as Bright Sorrow and Life without Christmas. In 1990, the first significant Western recording of Kancheli works was released, including the Third Symphony and the Sixth Symphony, both of which were widely praised.

There is a clear influence from Shostakovich in the opening ten minutes of the Third Symphony, including the parody a military march. The Sixth Symphony, which seems concerned with ominous, oppressive silence, had a clear relationship to the long, slow opening movement of Shostakovich's own Sixth. Yet, there was a striving for religious ecstasy that set Kancheli's music apart from Shostakovich's. In addition, there are elements drawn from indigenous and historic Georgian music, with trance-like drones and strange, otherworldly orchestration, often featuring the alto flute, an idea consciously borrowed from American jazz arranger Gil Evans. Kancheli's tendency toward even, treading motions is based on his great fondness for the conclusion of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, and orchestrational styles learned from film composers Michel Legrand and Nino Rota are also present in Kancheli's music.

In 1991, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Kancheli left the political uncertainties of his homeland and settled for a few years in Berlin, and then moved on to Antwerp in 1995. Like his late colleague Schnittke, Kanchelli uses multiple styles that can often be unpredictable. Prominent performers, particularly Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, frequently perform his music, and it has been frequently recorded. Read less
Browse 1-16 of 16 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    111: The Violin – Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002523902 Release Date: 08/05/2016   Number of Discs: 42
    Composer:  Niccolň Paganini,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Giya Kancheli,  Arvo Pärt  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Shmuel Ashkenasi,  Hélčne Grimaud,  Giuliano Carmignola  ... 
    Conductor:  Heribert Esser,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Andrea Marcon,  Reinhard Goebel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Venice Baroque Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $168.98
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  • 2.
    New Seasons  / Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002313802 Release Date: 06/02/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Philip Glass,  Arvo Pärt,  Giya Kancheli,  Shigeru Umebayashi
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Giedre Dirvanauskaite,  Andrei Pushkarev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica,  Liepaites Girls' Choir
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    Kancheli: Mourned By The Wind / Kakhidze, Georgia State Symphony
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002286 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Yuri Bashmet
    Conductor:  Jansug Kakhidze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Georgian State Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 4.
    Explorer Series: Kronos Quartet
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 536951 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Dumisani Maraire,  Hassan Hakmoun,  Foday Musa Suso,  Lawrence JKS Tamusuza  ... 
    Performer:  Dumisani Maraire,  Joan Jeanrenaud,  Hank Dutt,  John Sherba  ... 
    Conductor:  Terrence Kelly
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kronos Quartet,  Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir,  Tuvan Singers  ... 
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  • 5.
    Selected Signs III-VIII
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001892302 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Heiner Goebbels,  Steve Reich,  Arvo Pärt,  György Kurtág  ... 
    Performer:  Arto Lindsay,  Charles Hayward,  Ernst Stötzner,  Gidon Kremer  ... 
    Conductor:  Saulius Sondeckis,  Paul Goodwin,  Dennis Russell Davies,  Alexandros Myrat
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Steve Reich and Musicians,  Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra,  Rosamunde String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $78.99
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  • 6.
    Valentina Levko - Star Of The Bolshoi
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9406 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Henry Purcell,  Alessandro Stradella,  Andrea Falconieri  ... 
    Performer:  Valentina Levko,  Mark Lubotsky,  Grigory Zinger,  Liya Mogilevskaya  ... 
    Conductor:  Adolf Bruk,  Juozas Domarkas,  Alexander Lazarev,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Moscow Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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  • 7.
    The Complete Astor Piazzolla Recordings / Gidon Kremer
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 515783 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Astor Piazzolla,  Jerzy Peterburshsky,  Leonid Desyatnikov,  Giya Kancheli  ... 
    Performer:  Alois Posch,  Vadim Sakharov,  Gidon Kremer,  Michel Portal  ... 
    Conductor:  Gidon Kremer,  Rolf Gupta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Astor Quartet,  Kremerata Baltica,  Kremerata Musica  ... 
    CD: $79.99
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  • 8.
    The Art Of Instrumentation: Homage To Glenn Gould  / Kremerata Baltica
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 528982 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Valentin Silvestrov,  Giya Kancheli,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
    CD: $15.99
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  • 9.
    Echoes Of Time / Batiashvili, Salonen,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001520302 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Giya Kancheli,  Arvo Pärt,  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Lisa Batiashvili,  Hélčne Grimaud
    Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 10.
    Kancheli: Themes From The Songbook / Saluzzi, Pushkarev, Kremer, Kahkidze
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001515002 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Andrei Pushkarev,  Gidon Kremer,  Dino Saluzzi,  Jansug Kakhidze
    Conductor:  Jansug Kakhidze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 11.
    Hymns And Prayers / Kremer, Kremerata Baltica
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001476102 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck,  Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer,  Giya Kancheli
    Conductor:  Gidon Kremer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
    CD: $21.99
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  • 12.
    Kancheli: Styx;  Tavener / Rysanov, Sirmais, Et Al
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4023 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli,  John Tavener
    Performer:  Rihards Zalupe,  Maxim Rysanov
    Conductor:  Maris Sirmais
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Liepaja Symphony Orchestra,  Latvian State Choir,  Kamer...  ... 
    CD: $20.99
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  • 13.
    Gidon Kremer - Le Cinema
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 017222 Release Date: 02/16/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Chaplin,  Astor Piazzolla,  Sergei Dreznin,  Nino Rota  ... 
    Performer:  Oleg Maisenberg,  Gidon Kremer
    Conductor:  Andrey Boreyko
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
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  • 14.
    Piazzolla: El Tango, Etc / Gigon Kremer, Et Al
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79462 Release Date: 08/19/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Astor Piazzolla,  Juan Carlos Cobian,  Giya Kancheli,  Leonid Desyatnikov
    Performer:  Alois Posch,  Vadim Sakharov,  Per Arne Glorvigen,  Gidon Kremer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Astor Quartet
    CD: $17.99
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  • 15.
    Kancheli, Part / Franz Welser-most, London Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 55619 Release Date: 06/18/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arvo Pärt,  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  David James
    Conductor:  Franz Welser-Möst
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Kancheli: Symphonies 2 & 7 / Jurowski, Rso Berlin
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 999263 Release Date: 08/22/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Conductor:  Michail Jurowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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