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Giya Kancheli: Themes from the Songbook

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Album Review

Over the course of his career Giya Kancheli has written scores for over 100 films and plays, and in 2009 he gathered some of the music into a songbook, Simple Music for Piano: 33 Miniatures from Music for Stage and Screen. As a surprise for the composer's 75th birthday, his son and producer Manfred Eicher initiated a project with violinist Gidon Kremer, bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi, and vibraphonist Andrei Pushkarev to arrange and record an album of selections from the songbook. The original music was written over a span of almost 40 years, between 1965 and 2002, but there is a remarkable consistency in style and tone. The vast majority of the pieces recorded here have a mellow, semi-improvisatory, Latinate mood that is frequently reminiscent of Piazzolla at his freest. The prevailing sentiment of gentle melancholy makes for an album with a consistent tone. (It works beautifully as an album listening experience, but it's a little odd that the music is so unvaried for plays and films as diverse as The Crucible, As You Like It, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, King Lear, and Don Quixote, but that may have to do with the fact that it is re-scored for this chamber ensemble.) Each of the soloists is a star, but they put their egos at the service of the music and play with admirable sensitivity to each other, and the result is an exceptionally well-integrated ensemble. ECM's sound is impeccable. The album should interest anyone who wants to hear the composer's work in a lighter, more pop-influenced vein, and also fans of music in the mood of a very mellow Piazzolla.


Born: May 20, 1935 in Campo Santo, Argentina

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Composer, arranger, and world-class bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi was born in 1935 in Campo Santo, Argentina, the son of multi-instrumentalist and composer Cayetano Saluzzi, and spent his childhood in Buenos Aires, where he was a member of the Orquestra Estable at Radio el Mundo. By the age of 14 he was already leading his own bands (his first was Trio Carnival) and by the '80s, he had developed his unique bop-inflected and decidedly postmodern approach to the tango, an approach that has him artfully...
Full Bio
Giya Kancheli: Themes from the Songbook, Dino Saluzzi
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Soundtrack, Soundtrack, Classical
  • Released: Jan 01, 2010

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