disc has already been available but has now been re-issued at
a lower price in a smart cardboard cover to mark Ondine’s 20th
for Ondine and DePreist, two of the three symphonies here have
already been released on Olympia
in vastly superior performances by the Georgian State Symphony
Orchestra under Dzhansug Kakhidze. I suppose it is similar to
Elgar being played by British orchestras, but there is a rightness
to these Olympia
performances, although technically and recording quality wise,
the Ondine release is the better bet. The Olympia discs still appear to be available, but you will get different couplings
– the Ondine release is the only one to couple these three works.
is not particularly well known, but deserves to be more so,
based upon this evidence. Georgia, tucked away in the Caucasus, has a wide culture of folk music
which it has protected vigorously against outside influences.
On the classical side, composers such as Paliashvili, Machavariani,
Tsintsadze and Taktakishvili all enjoyed wide acceptance within
the Soviet Union. Kancheli belongs to the next generation, and similarly was well respected
within the Eastern Bloc. He first rose to notice in the 1970s,
and most of his works were premiered by the Georgian State Philharmonic
Orchestra and Dzhansug Kahidze. His first work to be so premiered
was the Concerto for Orchestra (1962), followed at regular intervals
by his seven symphonies. In 1988, Kancheli was awarded the honorary
title of Soviet People’s Artist.
in addition to his orchestral works, has spend a great deal
of time working in the theatre and this has had an effect on
his style. For many years he has been the musical director at
the Rustaveli Theatre in Tbilisi. In this position, he has produced much music for both film and stage,
including plays by Shakespeare, Anouilh, and Brecht.
musical style has developed over the years from neo-Bartókian
origins, towards an epic narrative inspired by Georgian folk
music. He has in the past criticised the use of folk music in
serious compositions, but while he avoids direct quotation of
such material, the basic conception is shot through with the
ancient tradition of ritual folk songs.
symphonic writing is characterised by colourism and montage
techniques. Symphonic tensions are missing. In compensation,
he pieces together starkly contrasting elements into a balanced
harmonious synthesis, often in a highly individual rondo form.
First Symphony is influenced by a grotesque motoric quality
in the style of Shostakovich march themes. It is built around
two dynamic extremes – by turns stunning explosions in tutti
sections and lyrical meditations. The overall effect is to create
an image of a cosmic rite, in which time is no longer under
our control. The wealth of timbres and the deluge of tonal levels
hurtles the listener from one reality to the next at breakneck
Fourth Symphony “In Memoria di Michelangelo” was awarded a State
Prize in 1976. The work is a tribute by the composer to Michelangelo,
the 500th anniversary of whose birth fell in 1975.
The symphony this time uses bells to accompany the rising and
falling of the various themes, this time pacified by the celesta.
Fifth Symphony has filled out a great deal compared with its
predecessors and is reminiscent of the film music of Prokofiev
and Shostakovich. In this symphony, instead of bells and celesta
in the 1st and 4th, we hear a harpsichord
carrying on the function of relief to the unending energy of
highly, particularly if you cannot find the earlier Olympia issues.
see also Review
by Rob Barnett