Moderato Cantabile

A classical cellist with an uncommon interest in improvisation and a jazz musician traveling ever further from jazz are the ones responsible for Moderato Cantabile. With connections to her acclaimed account (a recording that greatly influenced my album Polar Suite) of Gurdjieff’s music, cellist Anja Lechner and pianist Franҫois Couturier unveil this recording. They present their own arrangements of works by three fascinating outsiders from the margins of music history – G.I. Gurdjieff, Komitas, and Federico Mompou.

Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff was much more than a composer. He was in fact a major spiritual leader, philosopher, author and traveler who was born sometime around 1866 in the Russian city Alexandropol, which is now Gyumri, Armenia. After roaming the East for years, Gurdjieff switched to the West in the 1920s and set up one of his teaching centers in Paris, calling it the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. He also focused on his music, dictating over 300 pieces to Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, one of his many pupils. Read More

Komitas

Born in Turkey to Armenian parents who sent him to a monastery in Armenia. There, Komitas learned the basics of music and developed his love for traditional Armenian music.  His folk songs were published in 1895. Besides studying at the University of Berlin, Komitas traveled extensively, bringing traditional Armenian music to displaced Armenian populations. Komitas’ music is a fascinating melting pot of traditional Armenian music, and more “proper” Western counterpoint and form. Read More

Mompou

Catalan composer and pianist, famous for his solo piano music and best known as a miniaturist, writing short, relatively improvisatory music. His principal influences were French impressionists Erik Satie and Gabriel Fauré, resulting in a style in which musical development is minimized and expression is concentrated into very small forms. Fond of meditative sounds, his masterpiece Musica Callada, is based on the mystical poetry of Saint John of the Cross. Read More