Author Topic: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus  (Read 6026 times)

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Offline Superhorn

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Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« on: September 17, 2008, 07:08:02 AM »
   With  the  terrible  conflict  between  Russian  and  Georgia  in  the   news,  I  thought  it  might  be  interesting  to  discuss  some  of  the interesting  composers  from  the  Caucasus  and  Russian  composers  who  were  inspired  by  this ancient  and  fascinating  region.
   I  have  long  been  fascinated  by  the  Caucasus, with  its  ancient  and  exotic cultures, rich  and  turbulent  history ,  and  incredible  ethnic  and  linguistic  diversity.
   Khatchaturian  is  probably  the  best  known  composer  from  this  area.  He  was  born  in  Tbilisi  into  an  Armenian  family  in  1903,  and  died  in  1978.
   The  Kh  should  be  pronounced  as  the  CH  in Chutzpah.
   His  music ,  influenced  by  Armenian  and  Caucasian  folk  music,  may  be  garish  and  even  vulgar  at  times,  but  it  is  bursting  with  energy  and  color  and  is  never  boring.  The  ballet  Gayane,  with  the  famous  Sabre  dance,  the  piano  and  violin  concertos,  are  some  of  his  best-known  works. 
   I  have  a  recording  by  Stokowski  and  the   Symphony  of  the  Air  on  EMI  of  the  second  symphony, "The  Bell",  inspired  by  WW2.  It's  quite  powerful  and  deserves  to  be  heard  more  often.  Some  find  the  ballet  Spartacus,  based  on  a  slave  rebellion  in  ancient  Rome,  is  considered trashy  by  some,  but  is  certainly  not  boring.
   Mikhail  Ippolitov- Ivanov ,  a  contemporary  of  Mahler, Sibelius  and  Busoni, is  best  known  for  his  orchestral  suite  "Caucasian  Sketches",  which  used  to  be  performed  with  some  frequency,  but  has  been  pretty  much  forgotten.  I  have  a  Naxos  Cd  of  this  which  also  contains  the  almost  totally  unknown  second  suite,  which  contains  a   very  exciting   Lezghinka,  or  traditional  Caucasian  dance  with  pounding  drums.  The  conductor  is  Arthur  Fagen  with  the  Ukarainian  National  orchestra.  This  is  very  much  worth  hearing.
   The  Russian  composer  Mily  Balakirev  (1837- 1910 ),  is  probably  best  known  for  his  virtuosic  piano  piece  Islamey,  based  on  Circassian  folk  music.  This  has  been  orchestrated  by  Alfredo  Casella  and   the  Russian  composer  Sergei  Liapunov.  Balakirev  also  wrote  an  interesting  tone  poem  called Tamara,  based  on  a  Georgian  legend  about  a  treacherous  Georgian  queen  who  had  all  of  her  lovers  killed  and  thrown  into  the  Aragva  river.
   This  is  on a  Naxos  CD  with  the  first  symphony, a  work  which  ought  to  be  played  more  often.
   There  are  and  have  been  a  number  of  Georgian composers,  such  as   Zakhari  Paliashvili,  and   a  contemporary  one   Giya  Kancheli  (1935-).
   I  have  a  Sony  Classical  CD  of  two  of  his  symphonies.  Kancheli  has  a  distinctive  and  peculiar  style  which  features  lengthy  quiet  passages  followed  by  sudden  extremely  loud  explosians.  I  would  like  to  hear  more  of  his music.
   Incidentally,  the  great  conductor  Valery  Gergiev  is  an  ethnic  Ossetian.
   The  Ossetians are  descended  from  the  ancient  Scythian  tribes,  and  speak  a  language  related  to  Farsi,  Kurdish  and  Pashto.  Prokofiev's  "Scythian  Suite"  is  a  riot  of  color,  and  this is  the  kind  of  music  Gergiev  was  born to  conduct.   Also,  Yuri  Temirkanov  is  an  ethnic  Circassian  from  the  Black  sea  region  of  the  Caucasus,  and  not  a  Russian. 
    The  republic  of  Azerbaijan,  on  the  Caspian  sea,  has  produced  a  number  of  composers, although  I  do  not  know  their  music  well,  such   as 
Kara  Karayev, Uzeir  Hadjibeyev,  and  Franghiz  AliZade, a  woman  composer  who  has  lived  in  New  York. 
   The  Azerbaijanis  are  ethnic  Turks,  and  speak  a  Turkish  dialect  which  is  perfectly  comprehensible to  people from  Turkey. Most  live  in  Iran,  where  they  are  a  sizable  minority.
   The  rich  tradition  of  Caucasian  folk  music  has  inspired  some  colorful  and  exciting  concert  music.
 

Offline Pierre

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008, 01:16:10 AM »
Lisa Batiashvili has released a new recording (on Sony) of Beethoven's Violin Concerto coupled, most unexpectedly, with Miniatures by Tsintsadze: not all the critics have liked this, but I've really enjoyed the contrast - the Tsintsadze reminds me of Khachaturian, but somehow works very well as an aperitif IMHO.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 03:39:23 AM »
Hmm, I tried to locate a Georgian romantic-era composer I heard a while ago, but unfortunately I can only remember the first two letters of his surname (Dj) and Googling has been no help. (I tried to find lists of Georgian composers and search the Ds, but I could find no such lists, at least, no comprehensive ones.)

He composed a rhapsody on Georgian themes (not the Tcherepnin one), and a piano concerto, as well as some small piano pieces. The works I heard were downloaded from hugely out of print vinyl rips - I doubt he has any works on CD. I admit, his music didn't make a great impression on me, but I would have liked to re-listen...
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Offline Superhorn

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2008, 05:26:07 AM »
   I  think  the  Georgian  composer's  name  may  be  Irakli  Djabadari;  the  Dj  is  pronounced   as  in  Java.  I  have  heard  of  this  composer,  and  there  might  be  some  information  about  him  on  the  web  somewhere.
 

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2008, 07:06:23 AM »
   I  think  the  Georgian  composer's  name  may  be  Irakli  Djabadari;  the  Dj  is  pronounced   as  in  Java.  I  have  heard  of  this  composer,  and  there  might  be  some  information  about  him  on  the  web  somewhere.

Thanks, the surname was definitely something like that. Unfortunately Google isn't providing any useful search hits :(
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Offline Maciek

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2008, 07:26:27 AM »
   The  Russian  composer  Mily  Balakirev  (1837- 1910 ),  is  probably  best  known  for  his  virtuosic  piano  piece  Islamey,  based  on  Circassian  folk  music.  This  has  been  orchestrated  by  Alfredo  Casella  and   the  Russian  composer  Sergei  Liapunov.  Balakirev  also  wrote  an  interesting  tone  poem  called Tamara,  based  on  a  Georgian  legend  about  a  treacherous  Georgian  queen  who  had  all  of  her  lovers  killed  and  thrown  into  the  Aragva  river.

Just for the sake of being petty: I believe the direct source of inspiration for Balakirev's piece was Lermontov's poem Tamara, in its turn based on the Georgian legend (though Lermontov seems to have actually picked it up from a French guidebook to Southern Russia ;D).

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2008, 07:39:31 AM »
Just for the sake of being petty: I believe the direct source of inspiration for Balakirev's piece was Lermontov's poem Tamara, in its turn based on the Georgian legend (though Lermontov seems to have actually picked it up from a French guidebook to Southern Russia ;D).

It's amazing how many similar things to this occured during the Romantic era - composers obsessing over literature which (from a modern POV) was horrifyingly poorly translated, Liszt writing his Hungarian rhapsodies based on what he thought were folk tunes, but many were "classical" tunes that the gypsies felt obliged to play, etc... But I guess it's the inspiration that counts, rather than matters of accuracy 0:)
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Online vandermolen

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2008, 10:30:25 AM »
Miaskovsky's war-time 23rd Symphony of 1942 was inspired by folk music he was introduced to during his evacuation to the Northern Caucasus. He was based for a while at Nalchik.

Prokofiev was evacuated along with Miaskovsky. His String Quartet No 2 features some of the same folk-based thematic material.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 10:32:22 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2008, 11:46:58 PM »
Seem to remember I have some music by one Paliashvili; does he qualify?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2008, 02:11:45 AM by erato »

Offline Pierre

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2008, 02:08:44 AM »
Prokofiev was evacuated along with Miaskovsky. His String Quartet No 2 features some of the same folk-based thematic material.

That's a wonderful and still too-little-known work IMHO.

Offline Christo

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2008, 06:46:47 AM »
Lisa Batiashvili has released a new recording (on Sony) of Beethoven's Violin Concerto coupled, most unexpectedly, with Miniatures by Tsintsadze: not all the critics have liked this, but I've really enjoyed the contrast - the Tsintsadze reminds me of Khachaturian, but somehow works very well as an aperitif IMHO.

I love these Six Quartet Miniatures by Sulkhan Tsintsadze, didn't know about their recent release on Sony. I would have my doubts about the coupling as well - the Beethoven concerto is nice of course, but not as interesting as Tsintsadze!  ;D
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Christo

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2008, 01:23:35 PM »
Hmm, I tried to locate a Georgian romantic-era composer I heard a while ago, but unfortunately I can only remember the first two letters of his surname (Dj) and Googling has been no help. (I tried to find lists of Georgian composers and search the Ds, but I could find no such lists, at least, no comprehensive ones.)

He composed a rhapsody on Georgian themes (not the Tcherepnin one), and a piano concerto, as well as some small piano pieces. The works I heard were downloaded from hugely out of print vinyl rips - I doubt he has any works on CD. I admit, his music didn't make a great impression on me, but I would have liked to re-listen...

the name of this Romantic Georgian composer is commonly transliterated - he was active in a pre-WWII international world still more accustomed to French than to English - as: Héraclius Djabadary (1891-1834).

His once famous "Rhapsodie Georgienne pour piano et orchestre", you're referring at, is on this OUP CD that I happen to own, coupled with his Piano Concerto and also his most famous piece: Tiflisiana:

EDIT: it's still on sale for £8.79 with Amazon.co.uk

« Last Edit: December 25, 2008, 01:33:56 PM by Christo »
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2017, 02:42:36 AM »
Bump.

Wikipedia of course has a list of Georgian composers, but it´s not complete
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Mar/Cortot_boxset_600175.htm

and this Georgian website is better
http://www.georgian-music.com/index.php/portraits/composers

They include, for example,
some by Felix Glonti, a prolific composer (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Ghlonti)
I´d really like to see more recordings of
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsGpXZVQXGI

and some by Vaja Azarashvili, such as his piano quintet, etc.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2020, 02:41:59 AM »
I've been enjoying this new release:
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline pjme

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2020, 03:12:22 AM »
Otar Taktakishvili has written some excellent music. I managed to get a recording of his "Love songs" and "Megrelian songs" in which the Rustavi male vocal ensemble demonstrates an incredible vocal subtlety and virtuosity. The soloists Hamlet Gonashvili, Zurab Sotkilava and Medea Namoradze have exceptionally beautiful / characteristic voices.
Alas these colorful works (sad, fun, cheeky....) are not on YT and the LP is long OOP.


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/CpMqsqSjepY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/CpMqsqSjepY</a>

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/6045_n_XdiI" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/6045_n_XdiI</a>

Alas, as with Divna Ljubojevic (Serbia) the more recent incarnations of Rustavi tend to be more commercial and kitschy...

YT offers some concerti, symphonies and chamber works by Taktakishvili.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 03:23:43 AM by pjme »

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2020, 03:38:10 AM »
I did find the Mingrelian songs! ! Be prepared for something unusual:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/kxmyfP6sMW4" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/kxmyfP6sMW4</a>



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mingrelia
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 03:46:05 AM by pjme »

Offline Roy Bland

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2020, 06:52:51 PM »
Has anyone bought here?
http://www.classical-music-cd.me4u.biz/
Have these recordings decent sound quality and package?

Offline pjme

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2020, 11:53:55 PM »
Good morning Roy,

at least ten years ago I bought these two cds (+ 1 cd with chants / St.Panteleimon Church) from Best Georgian Music:

O. Taktakishvili.
Quartet for two violins, alto, and cello. c-moll. In three parts.
State String Quartet after A. Borodin. – Mikheil Kopelman 1-st violin, Andrey Abramenkov - 2nd violin, Dmitri Shebalin - alto, Valentin Berlinsky - cello.
Bidzina Kvernadze.
Concert for piano and orchestra #2. In three parts.
Soloist: Eliso Virsaladze. Georgian State Symphonic Orchestra. Conductor – Jansug Kakhidze. Recorded in 1968. Tbilisi.
Nodar Gabunia.
Quartet #2. For two violins, alto, and cello. In three parts.
The State String Quartet after the name of Sulkhan Tsintsadze. Konstantine Vardeli - 1st violin, Tamaz Batiashvili - 2nd violin, Nodar Jhvania- alto, Otar Chubinishvili - cello. Recorded in 1996. Tbilisi.
 
O. Taktakishvili.
Love Songs - vocal-symphonic suite for soprano, tenor, male vocal octet and chamber orchestra.
1. In the Mountains. 2. Tushian Love Songs. 3. Separating. 4. Love Chastooshka. 5. Living Apart. 6. A Quarrel. 7. At the Spring.
8. Meeting.
Megrelian Songs - suite for tenor, male choir and chamber orchestra.
9. A Rose. 10. Varado, abkhazian melody. 11. Chaguna, a joke on idler. 12. Working song. 13. Lullaby. 14. Chichetura, - comic song. 15. Bullock-cart Driver Song. 16. Sorrowful Song. 17. Wedding Song.

1 - 6, 8 - 17 Zurab Sotkilava. 1 -4, 8 Medea Namoradze. 7. Soloist - Hamlet Gonashvili. Vocal Ensemble RUSTAVI. Bolshoi Theatre Soloists' Ensemble. 1 -8. Leningrad Chamber Orchestra. Director: Lazar Gozman 9 - 16. Conductor: Otar Taktakishvili. Total duration: 54 mi

I had no problems in acquiring & paying them. Minimal packaging and minimal info. The sound: OK.
The Love songs and the Mingrelian songs are, afaik, Taktakishvili at his most quirky, folk music inspired, sweet & fun. I love the timbre and great character of all the voices.

Note from the website: All above mentioned CDs are available. Please, take into consideration, that classical music CDs are non-licensed, non-published studio made (re-mastered) CDs from old magnetic tapes (archives) and LPs published during old Soviet Time. They are made for education purposes, for the students of musical colleges. They will never be published also. So, they are unique in some sense.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 11:55:27 PM by pjme »

Offline Christo

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2020, 01:01:12 AM »
Good morning Roy,

at least ten years ago I bought these two cds (+ 1 cd with chants / St.Panteleimon Church) from Best Georgian Music:

O. Taktakishvili.
Quartet for two violins, alto, and cello. c-moll. In three parts.
State String Quartet after A. Borodin. – Mikheil Kopelman 1-st violin, Andrey Abramenkov - 2nd violin, Dmitri Shebalin - alto, Valentin Berlinsky - cello.
Bidzina Kvernadze.
Concert for piano and orchestra #2. In three parts.
Soloist: Eliso Virsaladze. Georgian State Symphonic Orchestra. Conductor – Jansug Kakhidze. Recorded in 1968. Tbilisi.
Nodar Gabunia.
Quartet #2. For two violins, alto, and cello. In three parts.
The State String Quartet after the name of Sulkhan Tsintsadze. Konstantine Vardeli - 1st violin, Tamaz Batiashvili - 2nd violin, Nodar Jhvania- alto, Otar Chubinishvili - cello. Recorded in 1996. Tbilisi.
 
O. Taktakishvili.
Love Songs - vocal-symphonic suite for soprano, tenor, male vocal octet and chamber orchestra.
1. In the Mountains. 2. Tushian Love Songs. 3. Separating. 4. Love Chastooshka. 5. Living Apart. 6. A Quarrel. 7. At the Spring.
8. Meeting.
Megrelian Songs - suite for tenor, male choir and chamber orchestra.
9. A Rose. 10. Varado, abkhazian melody. 11. Chaguna, a joke on idler. 12. Working song. 13. Lullaby. 14. Chichetura, - comic song. 15. Bullock-cart Driver Song. 16. Sorrowful Song. 17. Wedding Song.

1 - 6, 8 - 17 Zurab Sotkilava. 1 -4, 8 Medea Namoradze. 7. Soloist - Hamlet Gonashvili. Vocal Ensemble RUSTAVI. Bolshoi Theatre Soloists' Ensemble. 1 -8. Leningrad Chamber Orchestra. Director: Lazar Gozman 9 - 16. Conductor: Otar Taktakishvili. Total duration: 54 mi

I had no problems in acquiring & paying them. Minimal packaging and minimal info. The sound: OK.
The Love songs and the Mingrelian songs are, afaik, Taktakishvili at his most quirky, folk music inspired, sweet & fun. I love the timbre and great character of all the voices.

Note from the website: All above mentioned CDs are available. Please, take into consideration, that classical music CDs are non-licensed, non-published studio made (re-mastered) CDs from old magnetic tapes (archives) and LPs published during old Soviet Time. They are made for education purposes, for the students of musical colleges. They will never be published also. So, they are unique in some sense.

Great tip, love everything I heard by Otar Taktakishvili thus far, will look for these 'rarities' too. My tip would be his second violin concerto, or rather for violin and chamber orchestra, found on this terrific disc (the Nasidze / Nassidse etc. spelling of Georgian namens in the Latin alphabet differ per language, this cd choosing the German forms of both 'Taktakischwili' and 'Nassidse'. 

BTW the Georgian Chamber Orchestre under Liana Issakadze (German spelling again) was living AS A WHOLE in German exile in those years, had found a new base in the town of Ingolstadt in those years. They made a couple of recordings that I always loved, a special atmosphere of their own. I think the band is still there, in Ingolstadt, though with many names replaced by now. Germany was a safe haven for many cultural refugees during the last decades of the last century, this great CD always reminding me of their fate:

 
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Roy Bland

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Re: Composers Inspired By Georgia And The Caucasus
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2020, 05:09:36 PM »
Dear Pjme
Thanks for you answer.I need to know before buying georgian cds ,if sound is better than awful soviet recordings.I have this cd of Rustaveli Oratorio and has good sound quality
https://www.haydnhouse.com/HH22.htm
Best