Page 1 of 1

Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:57 pm
by Charlie
I think the series compiled by Francis Falcetto is up to number 25 by now, but I did not notice this one slip out. It just might be the best of all of them.

Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam is (was? not sure if she's still alive) a pianist, from a very different background to most of the other musicians featured in this series so far. Born in 1922, she was educated at schools and conservatories in Europe before returning to Ethiopia in 1944 when she enrolled at a monastery to become a nun. Rarely performing in public, she made several vinyl albums as a solo pianist to raise funds for the poor. This CD is a compilation from those albums, and I am having trouble picking out a stand-out track because the whole thing is such a delight.

It would be difficult to guess where or when it was made. New Orleans in 1910? If Allen Toussaint were to sit down and play a selection of rarely heard ragtime tunes, he might sound like this. I suppose somebody who understands Ethiopian music better than I do might begin to recognise distinctive melodic shapes, but evry time I think I've 'got it', the pianist does something else to take me far away: Scott Joplin, Fats Waller. Always slow and thoughtful, the album rewards focussed attention but plays happily in the background until another melodic phrase reminds you that it is still there.

Buy one for yourself and another for a friend. You don't know anybody who will not like it.

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:24 am
by JayJay
First post from a long-time lurker. Just had to jump in and wave the flag for this album too. My favourite in the series. A real gem. I`d love to know if she is still alive.

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:45 am
by Gordon Neill
Aha! A lurker exposed at last! A few months ago, I listened to the clips of the Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam CD on Amazon and I wasn't convinced. It all sounds pleasant (a good thing, obviously, but...still, you know...) but it didn't get me fired up. If it isn't the best of the Ethiopiques series (and I allow for the possibility that it might be, who am I to say), it's certainly the most distinctive. A strange mix. I hear New Orleans, but also Chopin. And all played with that slightly strange-but-attractive 'missing-note' style of so much Ethiopian music that I've heard. I had dismissed it but maybe I should have another listen, now that our longest-serving and our newest contributors have recommended it.

By the way, I think Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam is still an 'is' and not a 'was'. at least, she was an 'is' at the end of 2008. http://www.emahoymusicfoundation.org/biography.html

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:56 am
by Adam Blake
Charlie wrote:You don't know anybody who will not like it.


That's a lovely line. Judith turned me on to this nearly three years ago and, although I haven't heard the whole Ethiopiques series by any means, this is my favourite of those I have.

It's hard to know how to describe this music. Opaque? Inscrutable? Mysterious? Gentle and wistful but disciplined as a Victorian piano teacher. One can just imagine the kind of piano lessons this lady must have once endured at those European private schools. Her music sets the imagination running wild - WHERE does this music come from? Not just in geographical terms but in psychological. It's not jazz, it's not classical - at least classical in the European sense, we know it's African but it doesn't sound like any other African music. It's syncopated, romantic (both with and without a capital R), generous in spirit, singing happily from inside a deep, deep melancholy. I half heard a suggestion that she was in love with Haile Sellasie's son, was it? And that their romance was sabotaged as being inappropriate? Judith knows the story better than I. Whatever, this music is suffused with the blues without ever being Blues. Allen Toussaint filtered through the Rosicrucian period pieces of Erik Satie? Hmmm... All I know for sure about this music is it's beauty.

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:16 am
by Des
Gordon Neill wrote:Chopin.


or

Adam Blake wrote:Erik Satie?



Listening to clips on Sterns now and I'm getting more than a whiff of Schumann too. Strange stuff.

I won't say Haile interesting as that just wouldn't be funny.

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:34 am
by Rob Hall
This thread prompted me to go and spend 16 of my eMusic credits. I'm just listening to it now, and it is every bit as mysterious and alluring as everyone suggests. Thanks for the lead. eMusic draws background info from Allmusic. In the case of this album, there is a review by Thom Jurek. I'll paste it below, but the original can be found here.

The 21st volume in the grand Ethiopiques series (that reflects how deeply the country's popular music traditions are steeped in American and European colonial sources) is dedicated to the solo piano works of the outstanding composer and performer Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, a daughter of Ethiopian high society who chucked it all to become a nun in the nation's Orthodox Church. Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou was educated in Europe. She played violin (under the tutelage of Polish émigré Alexander Kontorowicz). She took up her piano studies while in the convent and teaching at an orphanage. Her first recordings — two LPs — were issued in 1963, when she was 40. The first nine cuts here come from these two albums. Guèbrou showcased her classical training on much of the first offering. But the opening cut also displays her incredible ability to play an extremely melodic blues piano as read through the great jazz masters of the instrument. One can hear a bit of Albert Ammons, a bit of Count Basie and Oscar Peterson, and even a trace of Art Tatum in "The Homeless Wanderer." She sticks to her wonderfully haunting classical compositions until "Presentiment" (track five), where she returns to the deep blues, which are nonetheless played light and airy in the middle and upper registers of the piano. Jazz injects itself deeply into her playing on the second recording, beginning with "Mother's Love." There is a spaciousness in her playing that is remarkable, and it is very much like song. "Ballad of the Spirits" may be an obvious example, but it is far from the only one. Her sense of phrasing is rhythmically complex; she shape-shifts, straying from standard time signatures into something more mercurial without losing form. On this tune one can hear Beethoven and Teddy Wilson.

"The Song of the Sea" is the longest composition here. Clocking in at just under nine and a half minutes, it is complex yet utterly engaging. Here, scalar forms and ostinati assert themselves in the theme, which returns over and over again throughout. But the improvisation on the original changes is remarkable; it feels as if the piece is in three movements, and a different kind of improvisation is featured in each. The harmonic invention and the melodic interplay between her hands are seductive. There are three other tracks here from an album Guèbrou recorded in 1970 while in Jerusalem on pilgrimage. These, "Golgatha," "The Jordan River Song," and "The Garden of Gethesemanie," are among the strongest works here. Even as they engage classical themes, especially on "Golgatha," the early jazz of Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton is whispered into the body of these compositions. The final four cuts here come from an album issued in 1996 while she was living in the convent. These four pieces are evidence of the complete realization of her craft. Guèbrou's meld of blues, classical, and gospel music filtered through a jazz pianist's sense of time and voicings is unlike anything anyone has ever heard. It's ethereal yet rooted in the Ethiopian Orthodox sung tradition; it's gauzy and fluid, yet worldly in its command of the musical languages she has chosen to display. It's precise and ordered, yet unfettered and free to drift. It feels like songs of praise, prayer, charming conversation, and partying all rolled into a single exquisite voice that contains many. Fans of Abdullah Ibrahim's township-informed solo work will find this set intoxicating and irresistible, yet she sounds nothing like him, or anyone else. The Ethiopiques series has unearthed other soloists, but this volume stands out for its lyricism, its mysterious emotional depth, and its utter musical mastery.

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:54 pm
by Charlie
Rob Hall quoting Allmusic wrote: She sticks to her wonderfully haunting classical compositions until "Presentiment" (track five), where she returns to the deep blues, which are nonetheless played light and airy in the middle and upper registers of the piano. Jazz injects itself deeply into her playing on the second recording, beginning with "Mother's Love." There is a spaciousness in her playing that is remarkable, and it is very much like song. "Ballad of the Spirits" may be an obvious example, but it is far from the only one. Her sense of phrasing is rhythmically complex; she shape-shifts, straying from standard time signatures into something more mercurial without losing form. On this tune one can hear Beethoven and Teddy Wilson.

This was the tune that led me to the album, being part of the soundscape at the Museum of Everything exhibition in Primrose Hill at the end of last year, where the track segued into Moondog's tribute to Charlie Parker (accidentallly, it turned out, as it was being played on an iPod's shuffle programme). All the music was selected by lilly Ladjevardi, who has been my weekly assistant helping to sort through the new releases. Lilly found the song on eMusic but had not acquired the whole album.

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:17 pm
by Charlie
Charlie wrote:This was the tune that led me to the album, being part of the soundscape at the Museum of Everything exhibition in Primrose Hill at the end of last year, where the track segued into Moondog's tribute to Charlie Parker (accidentally, it turned out, as it was being played on an iPod's shuffle programme).

email from series compiler Francis Falceto:

Thanks for the nice words. It is never late to enjoy good music !

Emahoy is still alive and well. She lives in Jerusalem.

Re: Museum of Everything soundtrack and the inspired shuffle Emahoy / Moondog, it happens that my wife Dominique Ponty has been the pianist of Moondog for his last 10 years' concerts. They used to perform in duet. (See Moondog THE GERMAN YEARS 1977 - 1999, Roof Music, including the last concert they performed together, 5 weeks before Louis T. Hardin passed away.) On another hand, the nicely extravagant owner of the Museum, James Brett, intends to make a documentary film about ethiopiques...

All my very best

francis

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:51 pm
by Alan
https://billetto.co.uk/events/99153

Ninety-one-year-old Ethiopian composer, pianist and nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou makes her first visit to the UK to perform a selection of her intimate piano miniatures that seem to drift through space

London Contemporary Music Festival presents LCMF 2015: Five Ways To Kill Time

Dec 13 2015 19:00

Ambika P3 Gallery 35-100 Marylebone Rd, NW1 5 London

PLEASE NOTE: This event will start promptly at 7pm. The space will be open for entry from 6.30pm.

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou Selected piano works*
Bryn Harrison Repetitions in Extended Time (2008)
Tim Etchells/Aisha Orazbayeva Seeping Through (2015)
Ellen Fullman The Watch Reprise (2015) (UK premiere)
Stephen O’Malley Live set

Performers
Plus Minus Ensemble:
Vicky Wright (clarinet), Anders Førisdal (guitar), Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin), Alice Purtan (cello), Roderick Chadwick (piano), Gwen Rouger and Matthew Shlomowitz (organs)
Tim Etchells
Ellen Fullman
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou piano
Mark Knoop conductor (Harrison)
Stephen O’Malley
Aisha Orazbayeva violin

Time is stretched, bent and finally dissolved in Six Ways To Kill Time. Sound artist Ellen Fullman opens the night with a UK premiere of The Watch Reprise, which will be performed on her 50-foot Long String instrument that one writer compared 'to standing inside a giant grand piano'.

Ninety-one-year-old Ethiopian composer, pianist and nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou makes her first visit to the UK to perform a selection of her intimate piano miniatures that seem to drift through space. Plus Minus Ensemble, meanwhile, offers up the intricate and disorientating world of Bryn Harrison's Repetitions in Extended Time.

Mixing spoken text and music, theatre maker Tim Etchells (Forced Entertainment) and violinist Aisha Orazbayeva offer a set of fragmentary improvisations in Seeping Through, a work fresh from a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

We end with a time-obliterating live set from doom pioneer Stephen O’Malley, whose work within and beyond his seminal group Sunn O))) exists in a kind of transcendent stasis.

* Presented with the kind permission of the Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou Foundation

Re: Ethiopiques 21: Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam

PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:34 pm
by Alan
Just in case you were thinking of going to hear Emahoy tomorrow evening - unfortunately she won't be there due to visa probs..
http://lcmf.co.uk/13-Dec-Programme-Change