Giya Kancheli: In l’istesso tempo (ECM New Series 1767)

 

Giya Kancheli
In l’istesso tempo

Gidon Kremer violin
Oleg Maisenberg piano
The Kremerata Baltica
The Bridge Ensemble
Recorded December 2000, Festeburgekirche, Frankfurt; July 2003, Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus, Lockenhaus; June 1999, Festeburgkirche, Frankfurt
Engineers: Stephan Schellmann, Peter Laenger, Markus Heiland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

“I hope that listeners will be touched by my compositions and not confuse my deliberate simplicity with what I consider the most dangerous thing—the feeling of indifference.”

These words from Giya Kancheli—a composer-in-exile who is not “in between,” but rather who inhabits his “outsiderness”—speak for something beyond music, for it is the simplicity of life itself that glows at the heart of his works. Each inhabits the same vast country, as mythical as it is real. Together they are a landscape torn asunder and rebuilt through a passion that only strings, hammers, bows, and the occasional tongue can articulate. In such a country, Time…and again is not only a 1997 composition for violin and piano, but also the sign of a mind steeped in the tea of remembrance. It writes itself into existence with unified declarations, any given sentiment deeper than the last. Violinist Gidon Kremer draws breath from Oleg Maisenberg’s low rumbles at the keyboard, the latter of a storm on an uncertain path. Themes are incidental, their background as present as a thought. Shades of dislocation reveal themselves, sometimes secretly (the allusion to Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel at 4:41 provides a clue). Outbursts forgo catharsis in favor of renewed self-awareness. Flashes of dances and folk melodies paint familial pictures, if only to remind us that we have traveled far.

Yet the singing in V & V (1994) for violin, taped voice, and strings seems to bridge that distance, flowering directly from within us. As orchestra and soloist unravel the deeper implications of that voice, we are ever on the verge of fading with it into the surrounding dust. Persuasion is rare, dynamic contrasts wide, and callings deep. And it is in their vale that the title piece for piano quartet travels in caravan. Maisenberg traces a steadying presence, setting the tone from which the strings may work their way into soft glides and terse spirals. The strings, in fact, seem to inhabit a parallel dimension where the implications of an incomplete statement are the norm (Another allusion to Pärt at 21:57 pulls the threads lost therein through an enigmatic loophole, thereby binding us to a circular breath).

These are ponderous works, never concerned with virtuosity, shying away from injury, stretching out even the densest element into translucence. A challenging program for some, to be sure, but one that can never be faulted for following its own path with the gentle reassurance of a mortal gaze.

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