Thursday, September 2, 2010

Giya Kancheli - Exil

2000; 5 tracks

Giya Kancheli is Georgian composer who, apparently, is often compared to both Arvo Pärt and John Tavener. Instantly, you should realize that this is not "easy" listening. I take both Kancheli and Tavener (having not listened to a great amount of Pärt, sadly) as both holy and doomed. Their music contains a spirituality that is not often captured in "classical" music, but I find it an extraordinarily haunting, and beautiful, dimension to otherwise boring vocal music. This is a highly meditative work that deserves at least one listen.

Exile is a vocal work sung in German, in faultless style, by Maacha Deubner accompanied by an ensemble of 5 instrumentalists with subtle additions of synthesizer and tape. It starts with a setting of the 23rd Psalm, followed by three settings of small, searing poems by Paul Celan, and ends with `Exile', a poem by Hans Sahl. Both of these poets knew exile and were scarred by Nazi atrocities during World War II - Celan barely escaped with his life from an Romanian prison camp, and Sahl fled Germany in 1933 and escaped to America on one of the last ships leaving Marseille in 1941, so even though this work is titled after 'Exile' and alludes to Kancheli's own exile from his country, it is also heavily weighed upon by memories of the war. The music is uniformly slow with spare, open writing and few of the extremes of dynamics common to his writing. The composition is intensely `inner', nearly conversational, and the voice, held at all times non vibrato and in great control, echoes in pure tones as if sung in a vaulted space like a haunted cathedral.



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