Johnny Gandelsman: Hemingway

Hrayr Attarian BY

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Johnny Gandelsman: Hemingway
Documentarian Ken Burns is an accomplished storyteller and on Hemingway he tackles the life of another masterful author, Ernest Hemingway. For the soundtrack of this intriguing, three-part film a group of genre-bending modern virtuosos perform nine mesmerizing originals.

Released on award winning violinist Johnny Gandelsman's In A Circle label the album features, in addition to Gandeslman, several notable artists. The Latin flavored "Un Gitanito En La Habana,'' composed by Venezeulan keyboardist Gonzalo Grau, mixes Afro-Cuban motifs with hints of jazz and western classical influences. Gandelsman's melancholic lyrical violin floats over percussionist Mathias Kunzli's beats and intricate strings refrains. Flutist Jeremy de Jesus on alto contributes a breezy romanticism while guitarist Gyan Riley concludes the track with flamencoesque bravado.

Riley plays his own "El Torito'' unaccompanied. His resonant chords create a shimmering mix of Spanish folk elements with baroque suggestions. His deft handling of the acoustic guitar is thrilling as he overlaps contrasting phrases with elegance. Another solost is pianist David Cieri, who penned and interprets the wistful nocturne "Leaves Fall Early." Expectant silent moments punctuate the gentle cascade of notes. Cieri's lilting lines weave an eerie and hypnotic lullaby. The effect is simultaneously intimate and foreboding.

Riley opens the collectively written "La Plenitud" with acerbic and serene phrases over cellist Michael Nicolas and bassist Shanir Blumenkranz's bowed vamps. Künzli adorns the mellifluous tune with shakers, cymbals and other sound effects. Blumenkranz and Riley engage in a dialogue over Nicolas' musings and De Jesus softly blows melodic fragments. The ambience is pastoral and poetic, peppered with fantasy.

This charming collection of warm and captivating pieces is appropriately cinematic. It is a perfect fit for the intriguing docuseries it accompanies and it can be enjoyed on its own. This is accessible and stimulating creative music at its best.

Track Listing

El Torito; Flor De Mayo; Leaves Fall Early; La Plenitud; Un Gitanito En La Habana; Villalta; The Garden Of Eden; Flor De La Noche Mirando A Las Estrellas; La Despedida.


Gyan Riley: guitar; Shanir Blumenkranz: bass; Johnny Gandelsman: violin; Mathias Kunzli: percussion; Michael Nicolas: cello; David Cieri: piano; Jeremy de Jesus: flute; Gonzalo Grau: composer/conductor; Lev Lyova Zhurbin: composer/conductor.

Album information

Title: Hemingway | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: In A Circle Records

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