Gurdjieff, Tsabropoulos

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COMPOSERS: Gurdjieff,Tsabropoulos
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Chants, hymns & dances
WORKS: Chant from a Holy Book; Bayaty; Prayer, ; Trois morceaux après des hymnes byzantins; Dance; Chant
PERFORMER: Anja Lechner (cello), Vassilis Tsabropoulos (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 981 9613
I imagine many readers of this magazine will probably have donated their dog-eared Picador copies of the philosopher GI Gurdjieff’s Meetings with Remarkable Men to Oxfam long ago, so it does no harm to be reminded that he was also a composer of a gently utilitarian sort. This disc mixes some of his compositions with a few homage-like pieces by pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos, which are much of a muchness. What needs to be borne in mind is that this music is very much an adjunct to the philosophical approach it represents. Often meditative and almost aggressively modal, occasionally animated, this is not a music of grand gesture. It’s certainly instructive to have these compositions available, with their mixture of Orthodox church influences, European pastoralism and Eastern mysticism, and the performances are sincere and sympathetically recorded. There are, however, rather more compelling examples of Gurdjieff’s music available, including some fine recordings of gently insistent, vaguely Satie-esque solo piano music, his musical efforts being generally intended to accompany the dance-like rituals incorporated into his system of beliefs. Anyone wishing to explore this somewhat occluded byway of early 20th-century music may prefer to start with Cecil Lytle’s several recordings on Celestial Harmonies and return to this disc at a later point. Roger Thomas

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