Giya Kancheli - Chiaroscuro - ECM New Series 2442



Georgian composer Giya Kancheli’s latest ECM New Series album, issued shortly after his 80th birthday, features first recordings of two major works: Chiaroscuro for violin and chamber orchestra, and Twilight for two violins and chamber orchestra. Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica have had a long and close association with Giya Kancheli. On Twilight, the coming together of Kremer and Patricia Kopatchinskaja, two of the most powerfully expressive violinists of our era, makes for fascinating listening. The piece is a touching meditation on mortality, written at a time when Giya Kancheli was recovering from illness and seeing in the leaves and branches of poplar trees outside his window a metaphor for change and transformation. 

Twilight, Kancheli’s first piece composed for two solo violins and strings was written on Gidon Kremer’s initiative for the annual Mozart Week in Salzburg. “In my professional life various superb performers have appeared at different periods,” Giya Kancheli writes in the liner notes.

“I am very happy that for the ECM production of Twilight Gidon Kremer joined forces with Patricia Kopatchinskaja. At the rehearsal I realized from the first bars that Patricia has all the attributes of a distinguished musical personality.” Kopatchinskaja, for her part, much enjoyed the encounter with fellow violinist Kremer: “This was one of my strongest and most moving experiences….I grew up and educated myself with the sounds and visions of Gidon Kremer. He is the musician and thinker who always captures me with all senses and trust, when listening to anything he does.” 

The title composition Chiaroscuro borrows its name from the painting technique of the renaissance and baroque whose concern with dramatic contrasts of light and shade corresponds quite directly to the characteristically stark dynamics of the composer’s writing, vigorously conveyed by Kremerata Baltica. The piece was originally written for Julian Rachlin, to be performed by him on both violin and viola.


After its premiere both Yuri Bashmet and Gidon Kremer asked Kancheli for independent versions, and these were subsequently developed and performed. As Kancheli remarks, “Profound personalities always discover in the music something that cannot be expressed in notes and signs … They effectively become co-authors of the works they perform.” 

In this sense, Gidon Kremer – as masterful interpreter – has been ‘co-authoring’ Giya Kancheli’s work since 1998 and his riveting performance of Lament – Music In Mourning Of Luigi Nono. Other Kremer/Kancheli collaborations on ECM include Time…and Again and V & V (on the album In L’istesso tempo, recorded in 2000 and 2003), Silent Prayer (on Hymns and Prayers, recorded 2008) and Themes from the Songbook (recorded 2010). Kremerata Baltica, too, has been programming Kancheli’s music from the beginning of its history. Gidon Kremer: “Giya’s music has become an

inseparable part of the Kremerata Baltica orchestra’s repertoire: each year, each season we have studied and played one or two of his pieces. Despite our previous acquaintance, each piece reveals something new and special.”

CD booklet includes liner notes by Giya Kancheli, a performer’s note by Gidon Kremer, and photographs from the recording session.