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The Georgian Composers Collection
Sulkan TSINTSADZE (1925-1992)
Four Miniatures for string orchestra (1940s) [9:35]
Otar TAKTAKISHVILI (1924-1989)
Megrelian Songs for tenor, male voices and chamber orchestra (1973) [21:02]
Redjeb JORDANIA Concerto Classico in D major for solo percussionist and symphonic winds (1954) [31:14]
Strings of Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra/Vakhtang Jordania (Miniatures); Zurab Sotkilava (tenor); Rustavi Vocal Ensemble/Anzor Erkomaishvili; Leningrad Chamber Orchestra/Vakhtang Jordania (Megrelian); Alexei Amosov (percussion); Winds and Brass of the Russian Federal Orchestra/Vakhtang Jordania (Concerto)
rec. 1978 (Miniatures); 1976, Capella Hall, St Petersburg.
ANGELOK1 CD-7770 [61:51]
Experience Classicsonline

The catalogue of Angelok1 is dominated by recordings made by the conductor Vakhtang Jordania. The composer Redjeb Jordania - whose Concerto Classico appears here - is his cousin. Vakhtang was born in Georgia in 1943 and in 1971 won the Karajan conducting prize. He defected to the USA with his famous girlfriend, the violinist Viktoria Mullova, in 1983. There he became music director of various state level orchestras including those at Chattanooga and Spokane. He died in Virginia in 2005.
 
Georgian composers include among the more famous names Kancheli (b. 1935) taken up strongly in the West (try ECM) and Andrea Balanchivadze (1906-1992), Alexi Machavariani (1913-1995), Sulkan Nasidze (1927-1996) and that doyen of Georgian composers Zakharia Paliashvili (1871-1933). The latter wrote three operas: Absalom and Eteri (1918), Daisi (1923) and Latavra (1926). Those who lived through the late LP era may remember a DGG two LP set of the first of these - a very exotic item at the time.
 
Sulkhan Tsintsadze's four Miniatures began as a work for string quartet. It became phenomenally successful and this gave rise to the composer's string orchestra version as heard here. To Western ears this work has a certain exoticism, a quality familiar from the music of Hovhaness. In the Shepherd's Song we hear some memorable bagpipe effects. After the heavily dancing first movement with its redolence of Holst’s Brook Green and St Paul's, the remaining movements are more subtle and otherworldly.
 
Taktakishvili is not unknown and a number of his works have been taken up internationally. He wrote two symphonies (1949 and 1953), two oratorios (Eternal Burning Fireside, 1963; In the Steps of Rustaveli, 1964) and four operas: Minidya (1961), The Robbery of the Moon (1976), The Woman-Chaser (1977-80) and The First Love (1980). There are concertos for piano (1950, 1975 and 1980s), violin (1957, 1976, 1987), cello (1977) and trumpet. Many of these were recorded by Melodiya in the 1960s and 1970s but few have reappeared on CD which is a very great pity. An exception is the turbulent Second Symphony which can be found - with some effort - on Russian Disc.
 
The Georgian highlands of Samegrelo are the homeland of the Megrelian or Mogrelian language. The nine Taktakishvili songs with orchestra, tenor and vocal ensemble are a vibrant example of Soviet ethnic at its best. This is a work of romantic soul and countryside enchantment. As folk-derived material it can be bracketed with Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne and Marek's similarly beguiling song-cycles (Koch). This one is distinguished by the wild abandon and reflection of the highland life - a little like that of the robber camp in Szymanowski's Harnasie. The difference is that in the case of the Taktakishvili work the orchestra and tenor are joined by the Rustavi Vocal Ensemble who contribute with harsh fibre in the herding call of the Odoia movement which in effect recalls the Estonian, Veljo Tormis. Throughout, Zurab Sotkilova takes his prominent role with what feels like authentic folk flavour. This registers in much the same way as the best altos and mezzos in de Falla's El Amor Brujo. The songs sound as if they have not left behind the rustic humour of the workplace. For example, try the happy shouted dialogue between soloist and choir in Little Jackal (song 10). From the odd low level clicks this recording seems to have been taken from an LP but the results sound very satisfactory indeed.
 
Redjeb Jordania studied with Karl Amadeus Hartmann. If you google him you will find a fascinating interview. His Concerto Classico is said to have been inspired by Prokofiev's Classical Symphony but is for percussion and wind orchestra. It is here presented in a single 30 minute movement. It is the most modernistic of the works collected here. It has an unruly, dry, Stravinskian grunt and thud and a brazen arrogant wheeze. It's clearly a display piece for the percussionist. I hear no resemblance to the Prokofiev. In a single 30 minute track the work is quite indigestible. It's a pity that its segments were not separately tracked. As it was I found that it made little favourable impression on me although percussion fans may find differently. I would like to hear other music by Jordania but will pass on this one.
 
Do have a look at the Georgian Music website for further information.
 
A brave cross-section of Georgian classical music: two hits and a miss.
 
Rob Barnett
 


 


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