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The result is a delicate, haunting and atmospheric selection of instrumental pieces. Played by a 14-piece acoustic band, they range from drifting, mesmeric arrangements for the duduk Armenian woodwind to subtle, sparse passages, or more sturdy dance pieces played on the zither-like kanon, the oud or the santur dulcimer. An intriguing, often gently exquisite set.
Robin Denselow, The Guardian

Nun geht das Münchner Label ECM, bei dem schon Keith Jarretts „Sacred Hymns“ (1980) und „Chants, Hymns and Dances“ (2004) mit dem griechischen Pianisten Vassilis Tsabropoulos und der Cellistin Anja Lechner erschienen waren, einen Schritt weiter, indem es 17 Gurdjieff-Kompositionen in wechselnden Besetzungen auf authentischen Instrumenten facettenreicher und in größerer Opulenz veröffentlicht. So wird die bis dato pianozentrierte Rezeption dieser Musik in der westlichen Welt zu ihren Wurzeln zurückgeführt. […] Sie präsentieren sich mit berückenden, sehnsuchtsvollen, tief beseelten Klängen, die auf musikalische Rituale des täglichen Lebens zurückgehen, auf Kirchen-, Liebes- und Tanzlieder, Hirtenmelodien und rituelle Musik. Das ist wie eine akustische Brücke über die Jahrhunderte und ein Toleranzprogramm der Weltgegenden.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

Georges Gurdjieff composed and dictated volumes of piano music. Levon Eskenian’s Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble reclaims these pieces from the salons of Paris and takes them back to their roots in the Caucasus. […] they reveal their origins and themselves.
David Honigmann, Financial Times

Allein wegen der zum Einsatz kommenden Instrumente möchte man der Aufnahme ein Echtheitszertifikat ausstellen.
Guido Fischer, Jazzthetik

Gurdjieff’s music was explored by Jarrett on his 1979 ECM album "Sacred Hymns" (which is worth revisiting). Here, though, it is rescued from classicism by Levon Eskenian, who has assembled some of the best Armenian traditional musicians into a flexible ensemble that delivers Gurdjieff’s music, if we choose to attribute it so, in small-scale arrangements at a time. The oud, central to "Chant From A Holy Book" and the three Sayyid chants, is now, partly thanks to ECM, the most familiar of these instruments, though all have some kinship with vernacular or classical instruments in the West: flutes, harps or zithers, reeds. The effect is strong and strange, and unexpectedly its very physicality and peasant alertness restore something of Gurdjieff’s muscular spirituality. Simply but immaculately recorded, it’s a beautiful set.
Brian Morton, The Wire

Eine wahre Weltmusik kommt hier zum Klingen, in der Elemente von griechischen, arabischen und assyrischen bis zu kurdischen und kaukasischen Tänzen als heilige Weisen mitschwingen.
Klangraum

The result is magical. The traditional instruments reproduce this deeply rooted music in a way that a western tuned piano never could – not only the microtonal intervals that are an inherent part of this music but the sonic qualities unique to each instrument. The soft, sad sound of the three duduks on the opening track “Chanft From A Holy Book” place you right into the heart of Armenia, while the kamancha, tar, santur, kanon, oud and saz on the “Caucasian Dance” and “Atarnakh, Kurd Song” replant these folk melodies and spiritual chants into the soil out of which they came.
Sofi Mogensen, Properganda

Das Besondere an diesem Album aber hier ist nun die spezielle Behandlung, die musikalische Umsetzung, die sich an die Tradition des Ostens hält, eben so, wie es der Meister auch gemeint hat. Es ist Musik, die stark von bestimmten Instrumenten geprägt und mit deren Ursprungsland verknüpft ist. Führende Musiker der armenischen Volksmusik sind hier vertreten, die Kompositionen mit armenischen, griechischen, arabischen, kurdischen, assyrischen und kaukasischen Einflüssen adäquat zum Klingen bringen.
Südwind

Simon Broughton from Songlines calls the recording a "fabulous collection of Armenian and Middle Eastern folk music with a fascinating story behind it". Furthermore he writes: "The tunes were composed by Georges Gurdjieff, best known as a mystic philosopher and author of Meetings with Remarkables Men, turned into a film by Peter Brook. But Gurdjieff was also a composer who dictated his music to his pupil Thomas de Hartmann (presumably because he was unable to notate it himself). Gurdjieff was born in Armenia, but travelled widely in the Middle East and became faxcinated with the traditional music he heard. In 1920 he was in Istanbul, living close to the Mevlevi meeting place in Galata and `Sayyid Chant and Dance No 29´ on this disc is very reminiscent of the Whirling Dervish music he would have heard there. So this CD is a something like what Muzsiás did on their Bartók Album, using his compositions to recreate the sort of music he would have heard and collected. It´s been arranged by Levon Eskenian for his Yerevan-based group called The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble including plaintive duduks (Armenian oboes), oud (lute), tar (lute), kamancheh (fiddle), kanun (zither), blul (flute) and tombak (drum). A lot of the music comes from Gurdjieff´s native Armenia, notably the opening `Chant from a Holy Book´, a plangent, spiritual duduk tune and a gorgeous Armenian song. Another track named `Assyrian Women Mourners´ is arranged for four duduks and frame drum, confirming what Djivan Gasparyan once told me about duduks being used for funerals in Armenia. Two of the most delightful tracks are enigmatically called `No.11´ and `No.40, arrangements from a collection called `Asian Songs & Rhythms´, and have a spontaneous, improvisatory quality, while `Caucasian Dance´ has all the verve of the mountain music of Georgia and Armenia. A remarkable work."
Simon Broughton, Songlines

"Faszinierend anzuhören ist die nun dokumentierte Rückführung dieser für den Konzertsalon `veredelten´ Volksweisen in den ursprünglichen Kontext durch den Komponisten Levon Eskelian, der die ergreifenden Melodien mit Akribie, Einfühlungsvermögen und Sachkenntnis für sein 14-köpfiges Folkensemble restaurierte: Back to the roots!"
Jürg Sommer, Aargauer Zeitung

Hats off to the ECM label. They’ve had a long-standing interest in Gurdjieff, having released that Jarrett album back in 1980. ECM became aware of this 2008 recording from the Armenian capital Yerevan and remastered it for the release this year. You can hear the album as a musical document of Gurdjieff’s many travels. It is also an alluring and often moving window into the world of a remarkable man who sought a better understanding of life through a combination of ancient religions, self-awareness and expecially music.
Tom Huizenga, NPR music

Mentre però al pianoforte le musiche di Gurdjieff sono l’apoteosi di un’iterazione estatica e di un esotismo assai posticci, qui accade una sorta di miracolo. Un breve, Levon Eskenian ha riunito un ensemble di eccellenti musicisti armeni e ha arrangiato – o meglio dis-arrangiato – una manciata di melodie di Gurdjieff riportandole nel loro alveo musicale originario e immaginario insieme. Semplice, perfetta, fittizia in quanto mai esistita in quella veste nella mente e nell’esperienza di Gurdjieff, ma solo in quella di Eskenian e dei suoi partner, questa musica emana un fascino straordinario. Forse proprio perché è finta, cioè reinventata, come tutta la grande arte.
Giordano Montecchi, L’Unita

This CD by the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble, under their director Levon Eskenian, consists of arrangements of Gurdjieff’s compositions for traditional Armenian instruments. The dudk permeates everything with its mournful grace, with the oud and zar lute, the kanun zither, and the daf frame drum adding their evocative sound. We get religious chants and dances from Georgia, Greece, and Arabia, plus a beautiful Assyrian mourners’ song.
Michael Church, BBC Music Magazine

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