The Georgian composer Giya Kancheli was born in 1935 and studied at the Tbilisi Conservatoire. Now living in Belgium, he is one of the many composers from the former Soviet Union whose music has only become familiar in the West since the 1990s. Although his works have explored the elemental subjects of grief, fear, solitude and protest, they also touch on topics such as nostalgia and innocence. His personal credo is perhaps best expressed in his own words: the music’, like life itself, is inconceivable without romanticism. Romanticism is a high dream of the past, present, and future—a force of invincible beauty which towers above, and conquers, the forces of ignorance, bigotry, violence, and evil.’
Commentators have observed that the distinctive sonorities of Kancheli’s music are born out of his use of silence. Indeed, Kancheli himself has affirmed that what fascinates him most is ‘the mysterious silence that precedes the emergence of a tone’. A striking feature of his music is its use of silence as a means of heightening the listener’s impressions and responses. Many of the composer’s other defining traits, including modal tunes, bass drones and wide dynamic extremes, are derived from Georgian folk music. When these factors are associated with images of Georgian landscape and Georgian folk traditions, the result is a very distinctive sound world such as the one we experience in Sio (a Georgian word for ‘breeze’).