Featuring a number of composers all from the ex-Soviet republics, Eastern Approaches is a showcase for the XENIA ENSEMBLE bringing together three contemporary works of great spiritual and artistic value to propose to a wider audience.
The CD includes Night Prayers (1991) by the Georgian composer Kancheli, a long movement that forms part of the Life without Christmas cycle, composed in response to the civil war that had recently broken out in the republic. The music is permeated with great sadness and compassion for all those involved in the violence. From the opening bars, the piece embodies the tension between the difficulty of pursuing a spiritual life and the eternal hope that some good will eventually come of the tragedy.
Mugam Sajahi by Ali-Zadeh, on the other hand lays stress on the feeling of nostalgia characteristic of Muslim prayer and through the dialogue of the strings delineates the contours of an enclosed female sphere within the Islamic world.
The Uzbekistani Dmitri Yanov Yanovsky, author of a series of pieces entitled Chang Music (the third of which, written in 1989 is in three movements and follows the rules of Western composition, even if many of its motifs come from Uzbekian folk music) whose name refers to a traditional instrument similar to a small cymbalom, evokes a wider nostalgia that reaches beyond the bounds of his country touching on the late romanticism of Mahler whose influence is filtered through composers such as Shostakovich and Schnittke.
The XENIA ENSEMBLE's execution of the three pieces is impeccable and should catapult the group among contemporary music ensembles of the first rank. Formed in Turin in 1995 by Eilis Cranitch, Christine Anderson, Michèle Minne and Elisabeth Wilson, musicians all resident in Italy and with a wide range of solo and chamber experience, the XENIA ENSEMBLE though a string quartet, is not afraid of taking on board other instruments in its search for new ways of performing contemporary music. Together with its playing schedule the group has since 1995 also organised a number of encounters with composers to bring their music to a wider audience through debates and performances. The quartet has worked with Arvo Pärt, Steve Mackey, Gerald Barry, James Macmillan, Simon Holt, Giulio Castagnoli and Gerard McBurney. FRANGHIZ ALI-ZADEH (Baku, Azerbaigian, 1947).
After studying with Karayev ALI-ZADEH became interetsted in ethnic music from Azerbaijan. As well as being a formidable pianist, she is also known for her talents as an organiser, presenting concerts of music by Ives, Messiaen, Cage and Crumb in her country. She currently teaches contemporary music at the Baku conservatory, after similar experiences in Turkey. In 1999 she was the guest of the Internationale Musikwochen in Lucerne and in May 2001 was composer in residence with the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn. Among her commissions are pieces for Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet and the Hilliard Ensemble.
DMITRI YANOV YANOVSKY (Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 1963) was brought up in a family of musicians, studying composition under his father Feliks and later with Edison Denisov and Paul Ruders. He has affirmed himself in diverse genres, from musical theatre and electro-acoustic music to chamber and vocal works and soundtracks for cinema and theatre), inspired both by ethnic sounds and by Mahler. He participated in Yo-Yo Ma's project Silk Road, with a composition entitled Night Music, Voice in the Leaves. Most of his works, however, pertain to the classical side of western contemporary music. He is also involved in promoting contemporary music in his own country, financing the Ilkhom festival in Tashkent.
GIYA KANCHELI (Tiblisi, Georgia 1935) emerged in the USSR during the 60s, composing music for the Rustavelli theatre in Tiblisi. Initially influenced by Bartok and Orff, in the 70s and 80s his own talent began to blossom in seven multi-timbral symphonies in which Georgian folk music influences were evident. Since the end of the 80s Kancheli has focused on the intimate substance of his music, pairing it down to an extremely concise form, particularly in his chamber works. He currently resides in Anverse.
XENIA ENSEMBLE from Felmay Shop