Kancheli: Mourned by the Wind; Light Sorrow

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LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Mourned by the Wind; Light Sorrow
PERFORMER: France Springuel (cello); Cantate Domino, I Fiamminghi/Rudolf Werthen
This time, Kancheli’s epic stillnesses and cosmic eruptions didn’t convince me there was a real composer behind them. Take the second movement of Mourned by the Wind, a forty-minute, four-movement composition originally conceived for the viola player Yuri Bashmet, now receiving its premiere recording in what is probably its more successful reworking for cello and orchestra. Here, calls to attention – less cataclysmic than the kind he sometimes drops into his static expanses – are followed by the most obvious little echoing phrases you can imagine.


The effect is in the weird timing, but such cute posturing struck me as fabricated, somehow dishonest. ‘A faint trace of dried tears’? Perhaps: the work is a memorial to a close friend; the finale’s opening must rank among the biggest surprises in recent music. Such materials can – I’d still insist against the fulminations of the modernists – be made to speak to the human condition in the Nineties. But not for me; neither here nor in the 31-minute cantata Light Sorrow, despite committed accounts by these Belgian forces. Keith Potter