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Kartuli Musika – Music from Georgia
Sulchan NASSIDSE (1927 – 1996)

Chamber Symphony No.3 (1969) [17:49]
Igor LOBODA (b. 1956)

Concert Balladea [29:39]
Sulchan ZINZADSE (1925 – 1991)

Miniatures [16:52]
Corinne Chapelle (violin)a; Alexander Suleiman (cello)a;
The Georgian Chamber Orchestra-Ingolstadt/Markus Poschner
Recorded: Asam Kirche Maria de Victoria, Ingolstadt, October 2002
GUILD GMCD 7279 [65:02]


Like a recent Guild release of Lithuanian chamber music (Vėl – GMCD 7283, that I reviewed here some time ago), the present release explores unfamiliar repertoire, in this case Georgian music by two senior Georgian composers and by one of their younger colleagues.

Both Sulchan Nassidse and Sulchan Zinzadse (also sometimes transliterated as Tzintzadse) belong to the same generation as Boris Tchaikovsky. This is the generation situated – historically and stylistically – between that of Shostakovich and that of Denisov, Gubaidulina, Silvestrov, Schnittke and Kancheli, the latter also from Georgia.

Nassidse’s attractive Chamber Symphony No.3 written for this orchestra is indebted to Shostakovich. It is a compact work in one movement, falling into four neatly contrasted sections played without a break. After a declamatory introduction, the first section unfolds in a contrapuntal way in a rather subdued manner. It leads into the more energetic two-fold central section (Allegro – Piu vivo) over which Shostakovich’s shadow looms large. The music gathers considerable momentum through heavily pounding ostinatos of grinding energy. The tension is eventually dispelled in the long slow final section that nevertheless ends rather ambiguously with a last unresolved question mark. In spite of its concision, Nassidse’s Third Chamber Symphony is a substantial work that repays repeated hearings. Now, I wonder what his other works sound like.

Nassidse’s close contemporary Sulchan Zinzadse composed a substantial output including four symphonies, several concertos and twelve string quartets that are regarded as the backbone of his entire output. His Miniatures for string quartet were written at various periods of the composer’s career. The version for string orchestra heard here was made by the composer. What we have here is a selection from his many miniatures for strings. A few more have been recorded by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra conducted by Juha Kangas (Ondine ODE 766-2). Many of them are unrecorded at the time of writing, at least in CD format. As may be expected, all these pieces are fairly short. Zinzadse’s arrangements are superbly and subtly done, so as to preserve the original simplicity of the folk tunes. These are variously dreamy, tender, joyfully boisterous and bouncing with energy. My own favourites are the lovely romance Suliko, Mtskemsuri ("Shepherds’ dance") and the delightfully catchy Zoli gamididgula ("The nagging wife") that brilliantly rounds off this generous selection from Zinzadse’s Miniatures; a jolly, rumbustious conclusion to this very fine release.

Framed by the older composers’ works comes Loboda’s substantial Concert Ballade for violin, cello and chamber orchestra (i.e. strings, bassoon, flute and celesta). The insert notes give no information at all concerning the composer whose name is entirely new to me. Neither does the composer’s own lapidary note tell much about the piece; much is left to one’s imagination. The piece as a whole is a bit of a puzzle. For once, it is stylistically uneven. The odd-numbered movements are generally much more coherent, stylistically speaking, whereas the even-numbered movements lean more towards a sort of polystylism à la Schnittke, the long final Passacaglia particularly so. Were I not in doubt as to the composer’s sincerity, I would say that the music verges on pastiche or parody. The music sometimes brought Schnittke’s Suite in Old Style to mind. Summing-up: a substantial, uneven and often intriguing piece.

In short, this is a very interesting release with much fine unfamiliar stuff, played with affection and commitment. It may be safely recommended on the strength of Nassidse’s and Zinzadse’s works.

Hubert Culot


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