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The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble

Music of Georges I Gurdjieff; Levon Eskenian

(ECM; US: 18 Oct 2011; UK: 1 Aug 2011)

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was a mystic. He fathered a system of esoteric self-enlightenment known as the Fourth Way.  His music, which he composed with the help of one of his pupils, the Russian pianist Thomas de Hartmann, was part of this system. It was meant to accompany ritual dances known as movements. Gurdjieff was born in what is now Armenia, and the musicians on this album present the music on indigenous Armenian instruments, seriously and simply, as if Gurdjieff had written liturgical folk tunes. It’s a brilliant move. The original rumbling piano compositions become hesitant and evocative. Slight changes in tone or volume or speed are parceled out as though they are precious. “Sayyid Chant and Dance No. 9” quivers like the prelude to a flamenco, but there’s no flamenco. “Sayyid Chant and Dance No. 10” spends most of its time in extreme simplicity, then there’s a complicated moment near the end and the impact is massive. There’s a feeling of something being suspended or withheld—noise, riot, explosion, the storm after the quiet. But what is being withheld? The music is as clear as an arrow.  Where is it pointing?

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Tagged as: armenian
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