Kurt‡g, Xydakis & Kancheli

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Kurtag,Xydakis & Kancheli
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Wenn Wasser Wäre
WORKS: Readings from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and poems by Giorgos Seferis, with music by Kurtág, Xydakis & Kancheli
PERFORMER: Bruno Ganz (reader), Keller Quartet, etc
CATALOGUE NO: 465 780-2
Even by ECM’s standards, this is a bold, visionary production. It consists of readings of poems by TS Eliot and Giorgos Seferis, among which fragments of music arise mysteriously and then fade away. The poems have all been translated into German, and are read with tremendous muted power by the actor Bruno Ganz. It’s fascinating to hear The Waste Land in German; it keeps much of its familiar music and rhythm, and has a weird sense of being familiar and alien at once. The only jolt for me was hearing the publican’s cry of ‘Hurry up please it’s time!’ turn into ‘Schloss Polizei-stunde!’ which seems inappropriately sinister. The CD is accompanied by one of those typically enigmatic ECM booklets with just the bare track timings and some enigmatic sunset images, together with a much thicker booklet containing a beautifully written essay drawing connections between the two poets and the music. Unfortunately, it didn’t contain English translations of the Seferis poems, nor the original text of The Waste Land, which limits the disc’s appeal for non-German speakers. Even so, the images, texts, and music (tiny delicate fragments by Kurtág, Kancheli and Xydakis) create a powerful atmosphere, where the whole adds up to much more than the sum of the parts. Ivan Hewett