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CD ECM Records Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff - Levon Eskenian

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Prezentare generala CD ECM Records Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff - Levon Eskenian


The Gurdjieff Folk Instrument Ensemble
Emmanuel Hovhannisyan Duduk
Avag Margaryan Blul
Armen Ayvazyan Kamancha
Aram Nikoghosyan Oud
Meri Vardanyan Kanon
Vladimir Papikyan Santur
Davit Avagyan Tar
Mesrop Khalatyan Dap
Armen Yeganyan Saz
Reza Nesimi Tombak
Harutyun Chkolyan Duduk
Tigran Karapetyan Duduk
Artur Atoyan Dum Duduk
Levon Eskenian Conductor

Fascinating and highly attractive project which returns the music of Gurdjieff (c. 1866 – 1949) to its ethnic inspirational sources. To date Gurdjieff’s compositions have largely been studied, in the West, via the piano transcriptions of Thomas de Hartmann. Armenian composer Levon Eskenian now goes beyond the printed notes to look at the musical traditions that Gurdjieff encountered during his travels, and rearranges the compositions from this perspective. Eskenian draws attention to the roots of the pieces in Armenian, Greek, Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, Persian and Caucasian folk and spiritual music. Enlisting the assistance of some of the leading players in Armenia, Eskenian founded the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble in 2008, and with them he has now realized a remarkable album. “What appeals most to me in Levon Eskenian's instrumentation is the extremely meticulous, clear cut work approach - without unnecessary ‘composing’ and ‘cleverness’- when in the wilderness of silence the tiniest intervention is done with sound, which is very characteristic of Gurdjieff's works. There is deep silence at the core of Gurdjieff’s music that relates us to the Ecclesiastes chapter of the Bible, or to the truth told of deep silences from faraway lands, a stillness that has not been darkened at all, and has the degree of density that leaves the Gurdjieffian silence immaculate.” – Tigran Mansurian

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The result is a delicate, haunting and atmospheric selection of instrumental pieces. Played by a 14-piece acoustic band, they range from drifting, mesmeric arrangements for the duduk Armenian woodwind to subtle, sparse passages, or more sturdy dance pieces played on the zither-like kanon, the oud or the santur dulcimer. An intriguing, often gently exquisite set.
Robin Denselow, The Guardian

Georges Gurdjieff composed and dictated volumes of piano music. Levon Eskenian’s Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble reclaims these pieces from the salons of Paris and takes them back to their roots in the Caucasus. […] they reveal their origins and themselves.
David Honigmann, Financial Times

Gurdjieff’s music was explored by Jarrett on his 1979 ECM album “Sacred Hymns“ (which is worth revisiting). Here, though, it is rescued from classicism by Levon Eskenian, who has assembled some of the best Armenian traditional musicians into a flexible ensemble that delivers Gurdjieff’s music, if we choose to attribute it so, in small-scale arrangements at a time. The oud, central to “Chant From A Holy Book“ and the three Sayyid chants, is now, partly thanks to ECM, the most familiar of these instruments, though all have some kinship with vernacular or classical instruments in the West: flutes, harps or zithers, reeds. The effect is strong and strange, and unexpectedly its very physicality and peasant alertness restore something of Gurdjieff’s muscular spirituality. Simply but immaculately recorded, it’s a beautiful set.
Brian Morton, The Wire

Simon Broughton from Songlines calls the recording a "fabulous collection of Armenian and Middle Eastern folk music with a fascinating story behind it". Furthermore he writes: "The tunes were composed by Georges Gurdjieff, best known as a mystic philosopher and author of Meetings with Remarkables Men, turned into a film by Peter Brook. But Gurdjieff was also a composer who dictated his music to his pupil Thomas de Hartmann (presumably because he was unable to notate it himself). Gurdjieff was born in Armenia, but travelled widely in the Middle East and became faxcinated with the traditional music he heard. In 1920 he was in Istanbul, living close to the Mevlevi meeting place in Galata and `Sayyid Chant and Dance No 29´ on this disc is very reminiscent of the Whirling Dervish music he would have heard there. So this CD is a something like what Muzsiás did on their Bartók Album, using his compositions to recreate the sort of music he would have heard and collected. It´s been arranged by Levon Eskenian for his Yerevan-based group called The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble including plaintive duduks (Armenian oboes), oud (lute), tar (lute), kamancheh (fiddle), kanun (zither), blul (flute) and tombak (drum). A lot of the music comes from Gurdjieff´s native Armenia, notably the opening `Chant from a Holy Book´, a plangent, spiritual duduk tune and a gorgeous Armenian song. Another track named `Assyrian Women Mourners´ is arranged for four duduks and frame drum, confirming what Djivan Gasparyan once told me about duduks being used for funerals in Armenia. Two of the most delightful tracks are enigmatically called `No.11´ and `No.40, arrangements from a collection called `Asian Songs & Rhythms´, and have a spontaneous, improvisatory quality, while `Caucasian Dance´ has all the verve of the mountain music of Georgia and Armenia. A remarkable work."
Simon Broughton, Songlines

This CD by the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble, under their director Levon Eskenian, consists of arrangements of Gurdjieff’s compositions for traditional Armenian instruments. The dudk permeates everything with its mournful grace, with the oud and zar lute, the kanun zither, and the daf frame drum adding their evocative sound. We get religious chants and dances from Georgia, Greece, and Arabia, plus a beautiful Assyrian mourners’ song.
Michael Church, BBC Music Magazine

Hats off to the ECM label. They’ve had a long-standing interest in Gurdjieff, having released that Jarrett album back in 1980. ECM became aware of this 2008 recording from the Armenian capital Yerevan and remastered it for the release this year. You can hear the album as a musical document of Gurdjieff’s many travels. It is also an alluring and often moving window into the world of a remarkable man who sought a better understanding of life through a combination of ancient religions, self-awareness and expecially music.
Tom Huizenga, NPR music

The result is magical. The traditional instruments reproduce this deeply rooted music in a way that a western tuned piano never could – not only the microtonal intervals that are an inherent part of this music but the sonic qualities unique to each instrument. The soft, sad sound of the three duduks on the opening track “Chanft From A Holy Book” place you right into the heart of Armenia, while the kamancha, tar, santur, kanon, oud and saz on the “Caucasian Dance” and “Atarnakh, Kurd Song” replant these folk melodies and spiritual chants into the soil out of which they came.
Sofi Mogensen, Properganda

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