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Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble; The: Music Of Georges I. Gurdjieff - Directed by Levon Eskenian

Georges I. Gurdjieff was a renowned mystic and spiritual teacher. However through his pupils, who he dictated musical passages to, he also composed. The music was inspired by his experiences travelling through the Middle East and parts of Asia, with many music professors from the West studying these compositions through transcripts that his sessions with pupil Thomas de Hartmann provided. However it was not until another previous ECM Records release, Sacred Hymns that interest really began to grow for Gurdjieff's work. Recorded by Keith Jarrett, there was a very Western flavour to Sacred Hymns. However what is presented here by a fourteen piece, acoustic orchestra and directed by Armenian, Levon Eskenian is a far more traditional retelling of these tales through authentic instruments and arrangements.

An engaging if challenging listen, this is an album that requires the mood and setting to be quite precise, as in the wrong situation the music that is intricately presented here can be lost in everyday noise. A disc to play in the car on the school run, this most certainly isn't. Everything is geared towards the claustrophobic mood of hardship and toil, with atmospheric passages often feeling quite foreboding, even if the music itself is remarkably Spartan in its presentation. The arrangements, as I would guess was originally intended, make this music feel more like a story being told, with the images of landscape and workers toiling, being brought quite vividly to mind through the busy, yet often sad music. Cleverly however some of the pieces, which seem to be traditional music for dance, suddenly turn the mood on its head, making for a collection of music that lulls, then shocks, saddens, then delights. That said, for some, the atmosphere may well be too dense to penetrate. Repeated visits unlocks an inner beauty to many of the pieces of music on this album, with only careful listening truly revealing the flow, pace and structure of the compositions to their full effect.

I've no doubt that some people, including many ECM regulars will struggle to stay the distance with an album that can at first simply float by without leaving an imprint of any sort. However allow the music to unravel its secrets and there is much pleasure to be had here.

Track Listing
1. Chants From A Holy Book
2. Kurd Shepherd Melody
3. Prayer
4. Sayyid Chant And Dance No. 10
5. Sayyid Chant And Dance No. 29
6. Armenian Song
7. Bayaty
8. Sayyid Chant And Dance No. 9
9. No. 11
10. Caucasian Dance
11. No. 40
12. Trinity
13. Assyrian Women Mourners
14. Atarnakh, Kurd Song
15. Arabian Dance
16. Ancient Greek Dance
17. Duduki

Added: March 17th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: ECM Records
Hits: 2076
Language: english

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