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