Giya Kancheli

Biography

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 1-25 of 30 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    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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  • 2.
    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  ... 
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  • 3.
    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  ... 
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  • 4.
    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  ... 
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  • 5.
    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
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  • 6.
    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
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  • 7.
    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
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  • 8.
    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
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  • 9.
    Giya Kanchelli: Little Ember
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 001221802 Release Date: 11/18/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Kenneth Coon,  Bruce Weinberger,  Elliot Riley,  Christine Rall  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaas Stok,  Nika Memahishvili
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Chamber Choir,  Raschčr Saxophone Quartet,  Rustavi Choir  ... 
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  • 10.
    International Music Festival Leningrad 1988
    Label: Col Legno   Catalog: 31806 Release Date: 05/01/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Andrei Eshpai,  John Adams,  Yasushi Akutagawa,  Giya Kancheli  ... 
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  • 11.
    Kancheli: Symphonies No. 6 & No. 7 / Kakhidze, Tbilisi
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66590 Release Date: 03/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Conductor:  Jansug Kakhidze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra
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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...  ... 
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  • 13.
    Reminding - Kuulberg, Schnittke, Part, Etc / Matthew Barley
    Label: Quartz Records   Catalog: 2032 Release Date: 01/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Schnittke,  Mati Kuulberg,  Arvo Pärt,  Franguiz Ali-Zade  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen De Pledge,  Matthew Barley
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  • 14.
    Kancheli: Simi, Mourned By The Wind / Ivashkin, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10297 Release Date: 06/21/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Alexander Ivashkin
    Conductor:  Valeri Polyanskii
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Kancheli: In L'istesso Tempo
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 000423402 Release Date: 03/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Oleg Maisenberg
    Conductor:  Gidon Kremer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica,  Bridge Ensemble
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  • 16.
    Kremerland / Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 474801 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Dreznin,  Georgs Pelécis,  Alexander Bakshi,  Giya Kancheli  ... 
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Andrei Pushkarev,  Danelius Rubinas,  Leonid Chizhik  ... 
    Conductor:  Gidon Kremer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
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  • 17.
    Kancheli: Diplipito
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 472082 Release Date: 06/29/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Derek Lee Ragin,  Thomas Demenga,  Dennis Russell Davies
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
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  • 18.
    20/21  Kancheli: Styx;  Gubaidulina: Viola Concerto /Bashmet
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 471494 Release Date: 05/14/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sofia Gubaidulina,  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Yuri Bashmet
    Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kirov Theater Orchestra,  St. Petersburg Chamber Choir
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  • 19.
    Kancheli: Magnum Ignotum, Simi / Rostropovich, Et Al
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 462713 Release Date: 10/31/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Conductor:  Jansug Kakhidze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Flemish Philharmonic
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  • 20.
    Kancheli: Vom Winde Beweint;  Schnittke: Konzert Für Viola
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 437199 Release Date: 08/08/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli,  Alfred Schnittke
    Performer:  Kim Kashkashian
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beethovenhalle Orchestra,  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Kancheli: Caris Mere / Dennis Russell Davies, Stuttgart Co
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 449198 Release Date: 04/18/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Jan Garbarek,  Vasiko Tevdorashvili,  Kim Kashkashian,  Maacha Deubner  ... 
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Kancheli: Trauerfarbenes Land, Etc / Davies, Vienna Radio So
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 457850 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Kancheli: Lament / Kakhidze, Kremer, Deubner, Tbilisi So
    Label: Ecm   Catalog: 465138 Release Date: 11/16/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giya Kancheli
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Maacha Deubner
    Conductor:  Jansug Kakhidze
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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
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