Various Artists, GEORGIA Kavkasia Trio: Traditional Songs from Georgia

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Somber songs built from unusual harmonies.

This American trio specializes in traditional folk and sacred songs from the Republic of Georgia. They're not usually considered an Early Music ensemble, but most of this music is indisputably old — Christian chant took hold in Georgia over 1500 years ago. At least as old is the folk tradition (including "table songs," done to the accompaniment of much drinking — or is it vice versa?). Some of these songs are "only" a few centuries old, but they're all strikingly new to Western ears. Often sad and quiet, Georgian songs are built around harmonies that don't exist in Western music, and which musicologists still haven't fully figured out, the exotic melodies often sung over a shifting net of drones. The sacred "Tsmindao Ghmerto" and the lovely plowing song "Orovela" are both repertoire favorites, and standouts on an album full of such haunting music.