Kancheli: Exil

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Kancheli
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Exil
PERFORMER: Maacha Deubner (soprano); various instrumentalists/Vladimir Jurovski
CATALOGUE NO: 447 808-2 DDD
This disc of Kancheli’s music says a lot about the relationship between a record company and contemporary music. Written expressly for Manfred Eicher, the music here is peculiarly stamped with the hallmarks of ECM and begs questions about which piper was calling the tune. Exil could be accused of following an ECM formula, if it wasn’t so hauntingly sincere, with its cool, disengaged chant, ‘ethnic’ noises, taped echo and the ambiguous ground between E minor and E major with some quartertones distantly dissonant.

Advertisement

Nevertheless, it makes for a beautiful concert: an organic song-cycle on the theme of exile. The verses used – Psalm 23, Paul Celan and Hans Sahl – are epigrammatic and full of echoes. Yet somehow we do not feel the ‘thousand darknesses’ which the Jewish Celan, exiled in Paris, found in the German tongue. The voice is made deliberately ethereal and disembodied. Kancheli tends to veil sections into separate ‘prayers’ (as in Night Prayers), which creates a wonderful sense of folding progress. But the texts surely demand a sound medium that is more gritty, more concrete. Helen Wallace