Ensemble Georgika,
Vol. III
(Face Music Switzerland, 1996)

Georgia, the former Soviet Republic in the Caucasus, produces some of the most beautiful, diverse and distinct vocal music in the world.

This Georgian male vocal ensemble of 14 singers and three instrumentalists (including recorders and lutes) presents a wide selection of songs from 10 of the 16 historical and ethnocultural regions in the republic. The music consists of rousing table songs, sung to welcome guests, warrior's songs, ring songs, work songs as well as songs of worship.

Georgia is one of the oldest Christian countries, having embraced Christianity in the 4th century and held out against Islam in the 8th; the Soviets in the 20th, and other forces in between. Thus songs to celebrate Easter ("Tch'ona") and Christmas ("Alilo"), very important to all Georgian traditions, are found here as well. Since these holidays are preceded by intense periods of fasting, these songs revolve around the much-desired gifts of food for the actual feast days.

On the opening track, "Shavi Shashvi Chloda," three voices play against each other in a complex and beautiful three-part harmony. It is a table song about hunting the black thrush through the mountains. Georgian music experts say the three-part harmony from the region of Guria is among the finest in the region.

These are tales that reflect the history, culture and mythology of an ancient people, and the harsh geography. "Perkhuli," a ring dance, tells a story involving Dali, a mythological holy being, who gives birth to a child on a white cliff. "Akhra Ashua" is the beautifully sung tale of two brothers whose lives end in tragedy after a narrow escape from a mountainside.

Georgian music has an exceptional beauty of its own and this CD is no exception.

Rambles written by David Cox
published 15 January 2005