Mikheil Shugliashvili (1941-1996)
Grand Chromatic Fantasy (Symphony) for three pianos (1974 / 1976-78)
Tamriko Kordzaia, Tamara Chitadze and Nutsa Kasradze (pianos)
From this distance the Grand Chromatic Fantasy (Symphony) now joins the important minimalist works of the seventies. But in advance of any comparison of this music (processes unfolding in time through repetition and layering) with the music of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt or Simeon ten Holt, its unique and almost forbidding character instantly appe- ars. In the course of nearly an hour a singular erratic block comes into existence, like the best we know from Morton Feldman or Galina Ustwolskaja. And yet the sound material is not at all unfamiliar. It was – even in those days – hardly novel. What Shugliashvili did with it, however, goes far beyond the usual, and far beyond Middle Europe.
The piece starts with straightforward descending chromatic scales. Gradually they expand downwards, overlapping, here and there with pedal held down, allowing an aura to arise, and then thinning out again. And thus it descends for five minutes. Then, similarly, it ascends for a little while. Soon it goes both ways simultaneously, growing denser and denser. After a quarter of an hour this leads to an intense climax, erupting into fierce clusters. A long rhythmical passage follows, played by knocking on the keyboard lids.
Again, cascades of scales or repetitions of muted tones. At times the elements get combined; iridescent fields, swarms of sound emerge ...