Composers: Thomas de Hartmann; George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff.
Liner Note Authors: Tigran Mansurian ; Levon Eskenian.
Recording information: The Armenian State Radio and Television Studio, Yerevan (11/2008/12/2008).
Photographers: Hayato Imanishi; Alber Babelon.
Armenian writer and philosopher Georges I. Gurdjieff was not trained as a composer, but he had a wealth of musical ideas based on folk traditions of Armenia and other Near and Middle Eastern cultures. His disciple Thomas de Hartmann was a pianist and composer, and Gurdjieff dictated over 300 melodies to him, which he arranged for piano, and which have become relatively widely known thanks to the advocacy of pianists like Keith Jarrett, Cecil Lytle, and Alain Kremski. On this ECM album, Levon Eskenian takes Gurdjieff's music a step closer to its roots by arranging the piano pieces for the kinds of instruments and folk ensembles the composer would have been most familiar with. The results sound remarkably like folk music of the regions in which Gurdjieff lived and traveled. Some of the instruments Eskenian uses in the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble may be familiar to Western listeners with an interest in Eastern music, but some are likely to be exotic to all but specialists and committed fans. The string, wind, and percussion instruments produce a rich variety of timbres and Eskenian combines them with insight and ingenuity to produce a broad spectrum of moods. The modal pieces, many of which have a gently elegiac or meditative quality, are related to a number folk traditions, and in his helpful program notes, Eskenian describes the cultural influences behind each piece. ECM's sound is immaculate, warmly atmospheric, and immediate. ~ Stephen Eddins
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