Gunter Herbig

Ex Oriente: Music by G.I. Gurdjieff

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The idea of playing the music of the mystic G.I. Gurdjieff on an electric guitar might seem to be out in left field, but it works quite well in the hands of guitarist Gunther Herbig. This is partly because some of the music, played by Gurdjieff as part of mystical discussions or rituals, originated with ideas on an acoustic guitar; the music was filled out for piano ("transcribed" is not a sufficient word) by composer Thomas de Hartmann. More than that, though, the electric guitar properly conveys the interior, meditative quality of the music. It needs somehow to live in the present rather than having any antique connotations. The representational matter of Gurdjieff's pieces ranges from Sayyid chant to a Tibetan Dance to The Resurrection of Christ (sample this) to a piece called When Gafar and Zeinab Walk in a Somnambulistic State. Everything is minimalistic in texture and suitably quiet (the guitar is at the bottom of its dynamic range), but evocative in its way. BIS captures Herbig clearly in a New Zealand studio. Certainly what one thinks of Gurdjieff depends on what one thinks of musical mysticism more generally, but this recording is not the pure curiosity it seems to be; it does justice to its material.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 04:22
2 04:03
3 04:45
4 02:43
5 06:48
6 04:34
7 05:10
The Struggle of the Magicians
8 02:10
9 02:42
The Struggle of the Magicians
10 04:52
11 03:16
12 02:21
13 08:11
blue highlight denotes track pick