Giya Kancheli: Magnum Ignotum

Mstislav Rostropovich, Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra, Jansug Kakhidze

CD18,90 out of print

The great Rostropovich puts his cello at the service of old friend Giya Kancheli: "I love this composer for his independence," Rostropovich says. "Olivier Messiaen revealed for me the limitlessness and endlessness of time, and the same is true for Kancheli." These premiere recordings feature inspired performances by the Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Jansug Kakhidze. Essential listening.If you like Magnum Ignotum, then you’d probably like:Giya Kancheli, LamentGiya Kancheli, ExilGiya Kancheli, Abii ne VideremGiya Kancheli, Trauerfarbenes LandGiya Kancheli, Vom Winde beweint

Featured Artists Recorded

December 1997, Kunstcentrum deSingel

  • 1Simi
    (Giya Kancheli)
    28:10
  • 2Magnum Ignotum
    (Giya Kancheli)
    22:28
BBC Music Magazine, Pick of the month
 
Simi ist eine unendlich langsame, halbstündige und tiefempfundene Meditation für Cello und Orchester, von Giya Kancheli für Mstislaw Rostropovich komponiert. ... Der Spannungsbogen läßt nirgends nach, was sowohl für die Qualität der Komposition als auch die der Interpreten spricht. Diesen Klängen kann sich auch getrost jeder überlassen, der sonst wenig Neue Musik hört. Magnum Ignotum ist ein Auftragswerk des Wittener Festivals für zeitgenössische Musik. ... Auch dies eine rätselhaft-schöne Komposition, deren Erscheinen auf CD um so erfreulicher ist, als man derlei viel zu selten live hört.
Benjamin G. Cohrs, Klassik Heute
 
Der georgische Komponist Giya Kancheli konfrontiert bewusst mit Stille, will die Fantasie des Hörers anregen und ein "Gefühl weit verstandener Religiosität suggerieren". Eindrucksvoll und in exzellenter Interpretation geschieht dies auf vorliegender CD mit zwei Kompositionen, die in unterschiedlicher Besetzung mit der Klangwelt Kanchelis vertraut machen. Simi für Violoncello und Orchester basiert auf der Erfahrung, dass die Saite eines Streichinstruments vielschichtigste Klangspektren erzeugen kann. Mstislav Rostropovich, Widmungsträger des Werkes, gestaltet frei von Effekthascherei jene Vielfalt, die sich mit Worten nicht fassen lässt. Ruhige und wehmütige Klanglichkeit birgt auch das Magnum Ignotum, dessen musikalische Dramaturgie mit Bläsern, Kontrabass und Tonband nicht auf stilistische Einheitlichkeit setzt. In authentische georgische Musik, die via Zuspielband kommt, integriert Kancheli persönliche Klangvorstellungen und entwirft eine musikalische Handlung voller Melancholie.
Yvonne Drynda, Fono Forum
 
Kancheli has sometimes been lumped together with Tavener and Pärt under the "holy minimalist" label, but there's something much more disconcerting about his music. It's to do with the frequent pauses between musical gestures; the sudden unexplained climaxes which vanish almost as soon as they arrive; a relentless tick-tock pulse which returns obsessively; passages which sound like a child's music box heard in a dream. It could all add up to something incredibly banal, but to my ears it has a sinister beauty which is utterly involving. Though the style is tonal, it reminds me of the music of Morton Feldman, where you are on the edge of your seat because there's simply no way of knowing what's going to happen next.
Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine
 
Von den besonders im vergangenen Jahrzehnt populär gewordenen Komponisten der ehemaligen UdSSR ist Giya Kancheli ein Querdenker geblieben. Ständig durchbricht der 1935 geborene Georgier die von vielen seiner Kollegen gepflegte Neue Einfachheit. Bei ihm mündet die dynamische Zurückhaltung nicht in mystizistischer Spiritualität. Die 1994 bzw. 1996 entstandenen Orchesterwerke sind denn auch herb-poetische Spannungsgebilde aus Klanginseln, Rissen und dissonanten Verdichtungen. Voll geistiger und emotionaler Substanz, die speziell in Simi dank des Widmungsträgers Rostropowitsch und ihrer ganzen Intensitätsskala von kühlem Tonfall bis glühender Intimität fasziniert.
Guido Fischer, Scala
 
 
 
Georgian composer Giya Kancheli came to know the musician widely regarded as the world's most outstanding cellist in the early 1970s. This was in the stormy period when Rostropovich, untiring advocate of human rights, was ostracised for his public criticisms of the Brezhnev regime and blacklisted for his support of Solzhenitsyn. In the ensuing years, there was relatively little contact between them, but Rostropovich sought out the composer when he visited Berlin. This led first to the writing of the solo cello piece "Nach dem Weinen" (1994) and subsequently to "Simi".

Mstislav Rostropovich is forthright in his assessment of Kancheli's contribution to music: "I love this composer for his independence, " he says. "His natural element is the deepest mystical sorrow. Olivier Messiaen revealed for me the limitlessness and endlessness of time. The same is true for Giya Kancheli. One should play his music as slowly as humanly possible. For only then does the music flood into the river bed and fulfil its impact. The pauses in Kancheli's music are not defined, their length is up to the performer. I took everything from his speech - I memorised the way he talks. He says two words and stops, contemplates, says another two words and stops again...In Georgian 'Simi' means a string. A trembling string. A string of the soul. And since we are speaking about one string that may break, it is a very personal, sacred, organic piece."

From his side Kancheli passes all credit for the work's success to Rostropovich: "It is common knowledge that performing artists are every bit as imaginative as composers. It is also common knowledge that Mstislav Rostropovich is not only capable of producing all imaginable sound combinations on the cello, but a host of unimaginable ones as well. A temptation for the composer… And yet I found the strength to withstand the temptation and write for Rostropovich an exceedingly slow, simple, confession-like composition, devoid of outward effects." Explaining genesis of "Simi", Kancheli notes that "a resonating string is as multicoloured as a rainbow. But unlike the rainbow, its humanly produced sound possesses endless nuances, rendering the sound spectrum of the string truly infinite. But the world of colours may also lead us into the unimaginably remote distance, where colour loses its definition and is tinged with unreality. It is precisely this "other-worldly" timbre that seems most suitable to the execution of the repeated motifs in the piece I dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich."

"Simi" was premiered by Rostropovich with the Royal Flanders Philharmonic Orchestra in Brussels on February 14, 1996. French concerts followed and in November 1998, Rostropovich and Kakhidze collaborated on the Georgian premiere in Tbilisi.

"Magnum Ignotum" was commissioned by the WDR and first performed at the Tage der Neuen Kammermusik in Witten on April 23, 1994. This work for wind ensemble, double-bass and tape has since become one of the most widely-played of Kancheli's compositions, perhaps because of its overt - and highly attractive - deployment of Georgian folk elements, specifically requested by the Witten Festival. This direct combination of 'authentic' sources and his own writing - heard side by side in "Magnum Ignotum" - was something that Kancheli had previously shied away from. As he put it to an interviewer in the UK's Tempo magazine earlier this year, " I've never striven to demonstrate my national roots in my music. I grew up on Georgian soil and listened to Georgian folk music from an early age, and I absorbed into myself all the best and worst in my people. But the connections between my compositions and the music of my people are very indirect. That music lives inside me, as my native language does... [In general] I value Georgian polyphonic folk music too highly to use it in my compositions. But if someone thinks my music resembles Georgian folk music in its spirit, then I feel happy." Taped sources used in "Magnum Ignotum"(The Great Anonymous) incorporate the reading of a priest in the cathedral of Anchiskhati : "In its own way, it's very musical. I decided to use it to open my work. Very gently a bassoon eases in, then a deep clarinet, careful not to disturb the atmosphere the preacher has created..." The second taped element is from the 1930s and is a polyphonic improvisation by three old men from West Georgia who sing in the recitative style called "ghighini"; and finally we hear the vocal ensemble Rustawi singing "Uphalo Ghmerto" (Holy God).