The Tbilisi Ensemble from Georgia, conducted by Robert Gogolashvili, was a
highlight of the Abu Ghosh Festival.
This ensemble is a men’s choir. Its
sonorous, forceful voices sound masculine indeed, with glorious low basses and
Right from the start they expressed great solemnity,
conveying a spirit of profound faith. Melismatic solo singing over a
non-changing constant bass was reminiscent of Greek- Orthodox choral singing.
Powerful masculinity was followed, as a sharp contrast, by almost whispered,
caressingly soft, irresistibly seductive love songs.
work songs were rendered with electrifying rhythmic accuracy.
structures based on modalities different from Gregorian chant and also from
major-minor keys sounded therefore unfamiliar to the Western ear, but despite of
that – or perhaps because of that – uncommonly fascinating.
emphasized impressive contrasts between loud and quiet, rhythmic splitsecond
precision, clear-cut, clipped endings and perfect consolidation were proof of
the ensemble’s thorough artistic training and high level of musical achievement.
Moreover, the singing sounded vibrant, natural, full of joie de vivre, and
convincingly in the spirit of traditional folksinging.
It is an ensemble
of this kind, not commonly encountered in everyday concerts, that makes such a