The Bavarian Georgians
Igor LOBODA (b.1956)
Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra Op.126 [26:08]
Jimsher ASKANELI (b.1975)
Erinnerung (Memories) [4:26]
Sentiments (arr. Eduard Israelov) [4:50]
Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra [4:20]
Mkhedruli (arr. Eduard Israelov) [4:13]
Franz HUMMEL (b.1939)
24 Tanzetüden über einem Stolperbass (24 Études on a Stumbling Bass) [9:00]
(dedicated to the Georgian Chamber Orchestra)
World première recordings
Irakli Tsadaia (violin), Olivia Friemel (piano)
Ensemble Del Arte, Neuburg/Donau, cond. Fuad Ibrahimov
rec. Live in October 2015, Congress Hall, Neuburg/Donau Castle, Germany
TYX ART TXA16080 [55:25]

‘The Bavarian Georgians’ is an intriguing title for a disc, which alludes to the fact that the Georgian Chamber Orchestra took up residence in the town of Ingolstadt, Bavaria in 1990. Ingolstadt of course was the setting for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, while its other claims to ‘fame’ are that the secret organisation the Illuminati was founded there in the late 18th century and that Audi has its headquarters there. The recordings on the disc were made in Neuburg on the Danube, which sits 11 miles away on the other side of the river to Ingolstadt. The Ensemble Del Arte is made up of some 17 soloists from this chamber orchestra, including composer Igor Loboda whose violin concerto kicks the disc off. It is an extremely attractive work with more than a whiff of tango about it which is a surprise considering its composer’s origins. The energetic first movement, in which the soloist is called upon to play almost continuously, eventually fades away and segues gently into the second short movement before the third and longest, a rondo, takes us towards a conclusion and this movement is where the strongest sense of the tango dominates proceedings. Despite the sense of fun that the tango is synonymous with, the concerto is a serious work that commands attention throughout its 26 minute length. I would certainly like to hear more of Loboda’s compositions on the strength of this.

The brochure says little about Loboda and even less about Jimsher Askaneli apart from saying he “is well known as a composer” though not by me. The four works of his here are all around four minutes long and slight by comparison with Loboda’s. While I don’t mean to be damning with faint praise, on this showing his music is more Classic FM than Radio 3 for those who understand the allusion or, for those who don’t it is salon music that is as easy on the ear as it is undemanding and while I found it pleasant enough I did wonder why it was on this disc even if he is also a Georgian. If I say that his violin works seemed like perfect vehicles for the likes of André Rieu I think you will get my drift. The Georgian inspired Mkhedruli (მხედრული), named after one of the three alphabets used to write the Georgian language and which originated in the 11th century, which in this arrangement is scored for piano and violin I found the most attractive piece. I think the theme would work well as the basis for a longer and more serious composition involving a fuller exploration of Georgian themes.

The last piece on the disc is a bit of fun from the pen of Franz Hummel who the notes also describe as being “widely acclaimed as one of Europe’s most original composers”. Once again his name was new to me, but that means nothing since I discover composers new to me all the time. His 9 minute piece is entitled 24 Dance Études on a Stumbling Bass and they are indeed very danceable though I was unable to accurately discern 24 since it sounded to me simply as a continually revolving tune. If there is anyone you know who finds the concept of music being funny hard to comprehend then this would be a good example to play them and watch their faces as the energy collapses in a musical heap at the end. The ensemble clearly enjoy the collective music making experience and I should imagine is a tightly knit group sharing as they do common experience as Georgians in Bavaria, a pretty unique situation. They play wonderfully well together and the two soloists showcase the world premières of 5 of the works here in committed fashion, with the conductor getting the best from all concerned. All in all an interesting disc even if it is not of music in the first rank of importance.

Steve Arloff

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