Hartmann: Music for Gurdjieff’s 39 Series

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LABELS: Channel Crossings
WORKS: Music for Gurdjieff’s 39 Series
PERFORMER: Wim van Dullemen (piano)
These recordings exist in a special category of their own. Much of the original music (the four Naïve releases) was created by the Russo-Middle-Eastern mystic Gurdjieff and written down by one of his disciples, the Russian musician Thomas Hartmann. The music on the Channel release is Hartmann’s own, but it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference. That said, all of it is highly oriental-atmospheric, and most of it hypnotic in effect; perhaps the best way I can convey its nature and intent is to quote from the Naïve booklet, which tells us that ‘Everything in Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way, aimed at the harmonious development of man, is centred on the simultaneous work of all his three brains. Anything less is as nothing for a “three-brained being of planet Earth”.’ Most listeners encountering this music for the first time are likely to find that a little goes a very long way indeed. But it definitely has a certain something. The harmonic vocabulary, however, is extraordinarily limited, the stylistic ‘fingerprints’ are few and omnipresent, and the improvisatory character could be duplicated by most piano students halfway familiar with Middle Eastern music. The music takes itself extremely seriously, as, evidently, do the players – both of whom are excellent: devoted, sensitive and subtle. Jeremy Siepmann