> Gurdjieff, Hartmann piano music [RB]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Georges GURDJIEFF (1877-1949)
Thomas de HARTMANN (1885-1956)
Piano Music
Volumes 8 and 10 of the Auvidis Naive series in Ten Volumes
Alain Kremski (piano)
Vol 8

First Dervish Prayer; Exercices Nos 3, 4, 6; Musique pour les mouvements Nos 8, 11, 13, 19, 29; 13 Octobre 1926, Slow Second Obligatory, Ancient Greek Dance; I am, Father Son

AUVIDIS NAIVE V4880 [68.00]
Vol 10

Musiques des Sayyids et des derviches No 11; 18; Chants et Rhythmes asiatiques Nos 11, 35, 40; Tibetan Melody; Greek Round; Greek Song; Greek Melody; Ancient Greek Melody; Armenian Song; Kurdish-Greek Melody; Atamakh, Kurdish Song; Sacred Dances.

AUVIDIS NAIVE V4882 [72.03]


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The attraction of the Orient pervades Western culture deeply and has lent it renewing genetic material. Sometimes the efforts now seem insincere and manipulative as in the case of Ketèlbey and a host of opportunistic purveyors. We wince at such music now though at the time it was perhaps viewed as more authentic. This music is now better thought of in the 'Nigger Minstrel' category.

At the other extremes we have people such as Roussel with his opera Padmavati, Koechlin with his Heures Persanes, Schmitt with The Tragedy of Salome. In these cases the exotic side merges and melts into impressionism and modernism. The work of Gurdjieff and Hartmann falls into the category of unassuming atmosphere with Hartmann seemingly transcribing the oriental melodies recalled by Gurdjieff from his wanderings through Asia. Alain Kremski has devoted himself to recording the complete works and the discs under review are but two instalments of the ten disc series. Paul Serotsky has reviewed two of the others.

The microphones have been placed in warm intimate proximity to the piano. Kremski and Auvidis avoid any antiseptic effect. This is simple music rendered without artifice. It is as if we are examining the raw material from which the Slav and Asiatic voices of classical music (eg Rimsky's Russian Easter Festival Overture) are formed), Kremski invests these pieces with great sentiment sometimes as if at prayer (Mouvement 11) at others with classical - almost Mozartian - limpid poise as in Exercice No. 4. Exercice 15 is closer to Prokofiev in quick pace. Musiques pour les mouvements No 13 and No 19 sound like an early sketch for Alan Hovhaness's courtly devotional dances.

In Vol 10 there is a Rachmaninovian catch in the rhythm of No 40 of the Asian songs and even more so in Asian songs and rhythms no 11. Tibetan Melody is an approach to a sweet gavotte - simplicity in celebration. Greek Round is a little like the solo piano music of Holst with a touch of Petrushka about it. The halting little Greek Song sounds a little like Grainger's Gumsuckers' March. There is a little catch in the throat in the Armenian Song. Tunes can be neatly pecked out as in Kurdish Greek Melody. There is nothing here that is grand or over-inflated - nothing to cause you to wince.

Kremski has recorded across these ten volumes 200 of the Hartmann/Gurdjieff works. This does not represent the complete works but Kremski assures us that in these ten discs we have the quintessential Gurdjieff/Hartmann.

The music will be a draw to listeners who have discovered the music of Alan Hovhaness but who hanker after a still greater and graver simplicity. None of these pieces slide into the sort of dissonant forests and mists represented by Hovhaness's Vishnu Symphony. If you were dismayed by that experience then any or all of these CDs will please you. Others may wonder if the music itself is rather thin fare for concert performance or sustained listening.

Alain Kremski has made the collaborative music of Gurdjieff and de Hartmann his own in a way similar to the grip Eric Parkin has on the piano output Ireland and Bax. In Kremski's case the ownership is even more complete.
Rob Barnett


Gurdjieff/de Hartmann - Piano Works in ten volumes by Alain Kremski (piano)
The complete series on Auvidis Naive

1. Voyage vers des lieux inaccessibles - V 4884
2. Chercheurs de vérité - V 4885
3. Récits de la resurrection du Christ - V 4886
4. Méditation - V 4887
5. Musiques des Sayyids et des derviches - V 4888
6. Rituel d'un ordre soufi - V 4889
7. Derviches trembleur - V 4890
8. La premiere prière du derviche - V 4880
9. Les cercles - V 4881
10. Hymne pour le Jour de Noël - V 4882


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