Exil by Giya Kancheli
with Susan Hamilton (soprano)
and strings, flute, synthesiser
First performances in the 2018 season: At Home in a Foreign Land
Exil, deals darkly with the traumas of displacement – a musical setting of psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd), and poems by holocaust survivors, Paul Celan and Hans Sahl. The theme of the work (felt in composer’s own escape to the West from the disintegrating Soviet Union) has assumed an even greater relevance to the distressing experiences of today's refugees.
Highly charged, but understated, shot through with shocking silences and sombre sonorities, these performances feature the clear, soaring, soprano voice of Susan Hamilton in settings which veer between hope and despair, faith and emptiness.
'[Kancheli] uses his instruments sparingly to weave a delicate gossamer sound web above which Susan Hamilton’s beautiful soprano voice sighs and soars like a golden eagle.' ★★★★★ The Scotsman
Giya Kancheli (b.1935) is a late Soviet composer. He left his native Georgia to settle in the West during the turbulent times following the breakdown of the Soviet Union. In his 1994 work, Exil, he sets the 23rd psalm (The Lord is my Shepherd), along with poems by two twentieth century poets, Paul Celan and Hans Sahl, both victims of the holocaust who ended up living as exiles – Paul Celan in Paris, and Hans Sahl in New York.
Like his contemporaries Schnittke and Pärt, his music uses a radical simplicity and expresses an overt spirituality. Silence plays an essential part in his compositions:
‘When a person goes into a church, synagogue or mosque where there's no service going on, there's a special kind of silence. I want to turn that silence into music.’