Giya Kancheli: Themes from the Songbook

Album review
Giya Kancheli: Themes from the Songbook

Giya Kancheli

Themes from the Songbook

Label: ECM
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

Outside Europe, Giya Kancheli is likely familiar only to classical music followers of conductor Dennis Russel Davies, the Kronos Quartet, violist Kim Kashkashian, and Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer. But closer to his birthplace in Tblisi, Georgia, the multifaceted composer’s incidental film and theater music has enjoyed widespread popularity. Its appeal is especially evident in the 20 stripped-down treatments delivered here by Kremer, Argentine bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi, and Ukrainian vibraphonist Andrei Pushkarev. Offering their work as a surprise birthday present for the 75-year-old composer, the musicians improvise from melodies taken from Kancheli’s 2009 piano songbook. The album culminates in an orchestral piece with conductor Jansug Kahkidze adding voice. Along the way, it’s held together by the exquisitely slow tempos of Pushkarev’s minimalist arrangements; the vibist’s delicate interplay with both Kremer and Saluzzi; a deep-breathing melancholy and poignancy that never turns lugubrious and is momentarily relieved by gypsy and tango playfulness; a graceful tartness that keeps sentimentality at bay; and simultaneously widescreen and tight-focus sonics that grant full, independent resonance to shimmering vibraphone tones, sleek and frayed violin timbres, and the dynamic wheezes and button taps of the accordion- like bandoneon. 

More Info

  • primary artist, Giya Kancheli
  • CD

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