Giya Kancheli has always been one of contemporary music’s most articulate and expressive voices. With this fifth recording of Kancheli’s compositions, ECM continues to give the Georgian composer an important medium for his deceptively simple, extraordinarily luminous and profoundly elegiac works. 1997’s “Diplipito” receives a most empathetic reading from cellist Thomas Demenga, countertenor Derek Lee Ragin and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra; Ragin’s exceptional vocal purity underscores Kancheli’s intense lyricism. The 1996 piece “Valse Boston” is performed by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra’s strings, with Dennis Russell Davies playing the piano and conducting with his typical sensitivity and exquisite sense of phrasing. Despite its name, “Valse Boston” is no exercise in misty-eyed sentimentality; the feelings that Kancheli evokes with his insistent triplet figures are gut-twisting regret and a deep sense of loss. This is one of the most elegant, beautiful and haunting recordings in recent memory; it is not to be missed.
“Diplipito”, pitting countertenor against cello in duets of aching elegy, seems to me one of Kancheli’s most ravishing creations. In “Valse Boston” for piano and strings an ineluctably slow ¾ time merely hints at long-lost dance origins amid images of lament and frustration: the ballrooms of Kanchelia are chill, empty places, probably with glass and rubble on the floor. With Dennis Russell Davies (conductor and dedicatee) at the piano, there are ghosts in “Valse Boston” of Shostakovich’s First Piano Concerto and, in both pieces, of Schubert, whose example has encouraged Kancheli’s recent works towards more direct melodic content. The performances reflect utter dedication from all concerned.
Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine
During “Valse Boston”, Dennis Russell Davies spends much of 28 minutes ruminating pianissimo over phrases that seem about to waltz in three-quarter time but never summon the energy to do so… This is a haunting piece of ghosts and whispers: as much a comment on civilisation’s whirls as Ravel’s “La Valse” more than 80 years ago. … Here is the dance of an exhausted world weighed down with memories, most of them bad; though the listener is saved from any gloom by the skills of the composer, the artists and the ECM recording team.
The disc’s title, Diplipito, comes from its companion piece, named after a small Georgian drum. … The counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin sings a text of abstract vowels, not words, drifting along in a bleached landscape given a little colour by Thomas Demenga’s eloquent solo cello. An elegy of sorts, and a striking one.
Geoff Brown, The Times