PRESS REVIEWS OF REZA GANJAVI'S CLASSICAL GUITAR CDs. Sensitive interpretation of sound from vanished worlds
by Sibylle Ehrismann
Article in Swiss Newspaper. Translated from German by Barbara Ludwig, minor editorial corrections by Reza Ganjavi
[extract from intro:] Reza Ganjavi - The guitarist who holds us spellbound with his CD 'Dancing hands'.... His constant companion, his guitar, goes everywhere by his side.
Rarely do we meet highly talented individuals who are gifted at an equally high level in different branches. Musicians who manage themselves are especially hampered very much by our present-day practice of 'overmanaging'.
This is not the case with Reza. Reza is a true cosmopolitan, having been born in Iran and then having studied in the States. (He obtained a Master degree in Management, and degrees in Computer Sciences and Philosophy magna cum laude). But his guitar was ever present, be it as a spiritual and artistic focus of the refugé, or to counterbalance the influence of his technical education.
Both of Reza's CD recordings, self-published, testify to his multicultural open-mindedness and as well to his American promoting skills.
His first CD rapidly became a bestseller in guitar circles. The booklet, composed and illustrated by Reza himself is only available in English. The texts are easy to understand and his philosophy is clearly demonstrated by the proverbial citings of great artists and philosophers.
Even if blurbs such as 'rezamusic: dedicated to a new millenium of friendship, dialogue, peace, harmony, understanding, cooperation and cultural exchange' may sound a bit corny, listening to the CDs themselves is worthwhile.The musician not only differentiates clearly between the leading melodies and the background but also offers a complex interpretation of the repertoire which is true to the style of the music.
The venue of recording, a small church in <snip> near Berne, Switzerland, enhances the appealing and subtly manipulated sound picture by its interesting acoustics. The plucked sound of the guitar vibrates well and dies gently.
Spanish temperament and French interpretation.
The repertoire on the CD is not trite either. 'Reza in friendship' contains works, including Spanish ones, of the Romantic period of the 19th century, the composers used to play them themselves in the French salons as piano and guitar virtuosi. So, Reza transposes rather cleverly the 'Preludio' by Isaac Albéniz for guitar, originally written for the piano. Spanish temperament meets French interpretation in the 'Serenata Espaniola' by Joachin Malats or the Etudes by Carcassi or by Sor.
Reza's second CD covers works for the lute and guitar from the Renaissance and Baroque period, simple but vibrating music. Some of Reza's fellow musicians and friends play as well, for example the star recorder player Maurice Steger. Here, the Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710), a pioneer of the guitar as solo instrument, plays a main role as well. Until Sanz appeared the guitar was used strictly as an accompanying instrument. In addition, we get two works by Scarlatti and suites for the lute by Bach, sometimes accompanied by a flute and violoncello.
Published by www.rezamusic.com
Review by Laura Wells
Being relatively unfamiliar with the work of musician, Reza Ganjavi, I chanced upon the Ojai Outdoor Amphitheater located some two hours north of L.A. on a beautiful early-October day. With a hint of fall swirling in the afternoon sunlight, the cloudless blue sky and gentle mountains reminded me that it could have been anytime. Reza was preparing for a performance. Sitting under the trees on a wooden bench, I was again reminded of the timelessness of the Fab Four’s material as I listened to pre-show Beatles’ music covering genres from trance to jazz. The number of Beatles’ pins and t-shirt wearing audience members increased steadily.
Dressed in a peculiarly 60’s shirt and slacks, Reza seated himself in the middle of the stage with his acoustic guitar. The first song, “Eleanor
Rigby,” was performed in a style reminiscent of impressionism and was followed by “Yellow Submarine,” at which time Reza encouraged the audience to sing along. He followed this with “All Together Now,” a lively but little-known work. After three Beatles’ tunes, he sat – with a cello-like stance – to begin two instrumental pieces from his first CD by the Spanish artist, Tarrega. They sounded melodic and gentle to one who has never heard of Tarrega’s work. He returned to the theme of the day by playing folksy “Norwegian Wood.” The 7th piece, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” seemed to bring about a fusion between the sound of the music, the surroundings and the lovely weather. From his 2nd CD, Reza played another instrumental piece, “Canarios,” by Spanish composer and theologian, Sanz. Other interesting numbers included the sweet, abridged, “Blackbird”, which was an enjoyable and enduring highlight, and “Don’t Let Me Down,” performed in a groovy way with lots of down-beat emphasis.
From classical guitar to timeless pop tunes and riffs by the (still) most famous band in the world, Reza demonstrated his love for the instrument, admiration for the Beatles and his joy of making music. One feature of a great artist is flexibility and that is what I saw in Reza Ganjavi's Sunday afternoon performance in Ojai. I look forward to hearing more from this wonderful artist.
Excerpts from press reviews (some are from German newspapers which are translated into English):
The third and last part of the concert was performed by the guitarist Reza Ganjavi, he was born in Persia, with an enormous virtuosity... He played pieces from Spanish and South American Masters of the 19th and 20th century among them Barrios, Tarrega, Albeniz, Malats, Lauro, Bonfa and Villa-Labos. His caracteristical intensity charmed the public, which rewarded his delightful simplicity with a lot of applause....As a “final-point” of the presentation Mr Ganjavi played some songs from the Beatles where the public joined the singing. So, on a day of a mostly informal gathering the whole spectrum/variety of occidental music art from Bach to Beatles was presented. And although the presentation didn't compete at all with the magical presentations of the actual Menuhim Festival in Gstaad, one got a clear idea of how the music language is and how she can bring people from all languages and nationalities together in peace and solidarity/mutuality.
Reza Ganjavi Travels Through Five Centuries With His Guitar......a musical journey through time from 16th century to today...From Renaissance to Baroque – with an emphasis on Bach – to the Romantic period, the artist enchanted (“verzauberte”) his audience by the works of such composers as Sanz, Scarlatti, Sor, Giuliani, Tarrega, and Albeniz....During the second part of the performance, the Persian virtuoso who had lived in the US since he was 15, changed between classical guitar and piano and the audience listened, sang, and clapped along, to songs from The Beatles, such as Hey Jude and Let It Be. All in all it was a successful evening between the middle-age and the new-age, with a brilliant and energetic musician and narrator.
A World-Citizen Gave A Concert... when this classical musician says that his biggest musical influence are the Beatles, everybody understands what the word “multi-cultural” could mean.... RG is everywhere at home. And he doesn’t feel at all like a stranger in Switzerland. “the world is my home”, he says. But he doesn’t mix up everything. When he’s playing Persian music – what he was doing with a lot of joy after his classical concert last Friday evening – he is 100% Persian. But the Beatles also would be happy if they heard his interpretation of their songs. He played the Beatles at the Badenfahrt for a big audience.... And at the classical concert in the Sebastian Chapel to celebrate the anniversary of the centre, he played pieces of the European masters with a sensitivity as if only this kind of music existed in his life. For RG everything stays original. That’s what one should understand by multi-cultural: to stay faithful to oneself, to be conscious of our roots, and to cherish them while being at the same time open for other people and cultures. To be tolerant and willing to learn. If a multicultural society could be like this, RG would be a perfect example. In this sense if was a brilliant idea to choose him for the Multicultural Centre anniversary concert.
At the appointment he had with the newspaper he came in with a small yellow parcel which he had to carry to the post afterwards. There were 4 CD's in it. He said as an answer to the question asked: "because a girl on a train ordered" and he smiled contentedly... After a long a time Reza has produced his first CD. It is not the last reason [why he produced it] because as his guitar playing on trains and buses have people more and more fascinated, they obviously wanted to have this music at home for years. So he started to promise his fans that they'll receive a CD and started collecting their addresses and put himself under pressure - because the first promise he made was 4 years ago. And his fans became in all these years a bit impatient which is very understandable. The nice thing about it is that now that the CD is available he owes the CD to a lot of people who are interested in it. This is important because he is both the producer and the distributor. Musically he does 3 different things: His repertoire includes Beatles songs and Classical music. But whenever he's on stage people realize that he was born in Iran and they always want to hear something Persian. Reza is a discrete musician. Although he is very capable of playing powerful energetic passages, he doesn't playing anything that disturbs other people. The main thing is that he is there with his whole soul.
He plays with a lot of sensibility and heart across the strings and through the songs he loves.... He is always well received as a guest: whether in a concert, a private party, on stage, or as mentioned before on a train or tram, because of his heartiness and his music which is full of soul, it has never led to a confrontation - which is not pleasant. Maybe the man who gave him 5 francs when he left the train has very much realized the whole thing because he said: "when I got on the train I felt stressed. Now I feel relaxed."... Except of a grumpy old man, a well haired American woman, and an old lady wearing a fur coat, all the passengers in the train and in the bus are really really pleased. Everyone who've had the possibility to enjoy one of the mobile Reza Ganjavi concerts have been pleased. When a conductor asked him to stop playing the other passengers objected and wanted Reza not to stop. But it was only one conductor who said that - the other ones seemed to be pleased too. Reza said they often don't want to see my ticket and instead, walk by smiling, even though that it has also happened that the conductor came by and showed him a better place to play.... Due to his playing in public transport and the contacts he had gave him loads of addresses around the world. Recently he asked someone who had written to him which would be the best way to pay because he had to send a CD to Brazil. He feels like a fish in the water among the audience who have chosen him. Except if he has gigs as in a concert or party, as a paid, engaged musician because people like him and he likes people, specially the Europeans, he says are much more open than Americans and Swiss people who are normally not that famous for spontaneity, he says the opposite. He is totally happy that he can bring joy to people with his music and that's why he says in a very pleased way, what would a musician want more in life than the appreciation of the audience. And when he is not looking for it, it comes.....
With his CD.... not only pleases and brings joy to his existing friends, but he wins new friends. Because it is a CD with extra-ordinary, delicate, sympathetic interpretation. The Italian composer Angelo Gilardino has composed melodies for various instruments based on Anonymous Romance which the listener should have heard before - the music for the film Forbidden Games, it is one of the most famous guitar melodies. The variations Gilardino has written are on one side seeming simple, but on the other hand very versatile, harmonic, and gives you a sense of meditation. These variations have found in Reza the ideal interpreter. You can also find pieces by Giuliani, Sor, Carcassi, Tarrega, Malats, and Albeniz. One of the main parts of the meditative and harmonic character of the CD is the acoustics. Reza has been to a lot of churches until he settled for a small house of god near Bern. The music in this place has a little echo. This room that produces a small echo, with it the music seems to vibrate through the room and this gives the whole CD without doubt, an intimate note. This intimate note gets better because the sound engineer really knows his job - and that was Reza himself. That's probably the reason why the whole CD seems to come from one step - because on every level the musician himself is working. It's very typical for Reza Ganjavi The choice of the different musicians is very important because the variations of this Romance is....... The company of his guitar changes from the voice of Franziska Hegi and from violin, viola, mandolin, flute, oboe, and the cellist Stefania Verita who's a member of a flamenco group and the Tonhalle orchestra - has been discovered by him in a tram which is very typical for him!... When Reza is on his way again and plays in trains and buses, makes people happy, and these people want to bring something home with them, now he has not to give promises for later. Who wonders that traveling by train pays for itself because nowhere else you can sell as many CD's as on the train without coming too close to people but only because he plays. You can hear parts of his CD on his homepage....
Those who can not listen to Roger Whitakers’ songs were very pleased to hear Reza Ganjavi, a virtuoso guitarist of Persian origin ... The passionate musician took his audience with him without any effort... joy of life…
COMMENTARY ON PERFORMANCE AT A PRIVATE PARTY
Mr. Francois Gaufroid
First of all I must thank you for the christmas evening concert you performed for us. I think everybody really enjoyed it. I got so good feedback.
Here is my statement:
Sometimes life brings happiness to you (all of a sudden)!
This happened to me in the train from Berne to Baden. I was sitting in a compartment in the train an after a time I heard classical guitar music and realized instantly that this is not from a radio but live music. So I was looking where the music is coming from. I walked through the gangway and saw a young man sitting alone in a compartment playing the guitar. I asked him if I could sit down. And then he gave a concert just for me until we arrived in Baden. I was so impressed that I always remembered this moment and wanted to invite him to play for us when I had a good opportunity. Many times I had this opportunity and many times I just forgot Reza (shame on me).
This Christmas we got an invitation from our friends the Berner Family (Restaurant Berner, Neuenhof) to come together again and have a nice afternoon with old friends on Dec. 25th. in the Restaurant. And then I remembered Reza and just called him if he likes to play for us. It was on short notice but he agreed. And then he came and played...
….and how he played. In German we say "vom Feinsten" or in english "for the Gourmet only". With his music he created such a warm athmosphere and inspired everybody ….unbelivable. First he played classical music and then he played some old Beatle Songs and all of us where singing, dancing and had really a great time. I got so many compliments from my friends for this idea but to be honest…the compliments were not really for me but for Reza.
So… I really can recommend Reza to play for you at any event you have. May be not for a Hip Hop Party but if you have a nice party or event with friends or even bigger….call Reza. With my name I guarantee you…this money is good invested…because you do something good for your friends and this is so important in this difficult time.
Exploring Genius with Reza and the Beatles
Concert Review by Stephen Smith
It is a long way from the deserts of Iran to the rain-swept streets of Liverpool, England, but someone who has made the leap is musician/ world-traveler Reza Ganjavi. In his tribute to the genius of the Beatles, performed in Ojai, California, on June 26, Reza stretched the repertoire from the days of the Beatles’ first #1 hit Please, please me to the post-break-up period of John Lennon’s Imagine. Thirty-eight numbers were played in all.
The concert began with Reza’s solo performance of a number of classical pieces written or arranged for guitar. These included works by Bach, Albeñiz, Tárrega, and Gaspar Sanz, all of which feature on his two CDs, In Friendship and Dancing Hands, as do his variations on the theme of Greensleeves. Reza is nothing if not eclectic! His first Beatles song was Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night—actually a paean to the release of the creative spirit—and this he followed with Yesterday. Interestingly, Reza, whose Krishnamurti connection is well known, changed the lyrics of the song to, I don’t believe in yesterday, a process he repeated in his rendition of Imagine. This reinvention of meaning puts one in mind of Edward Fitzgerald’s “transmogrification” of the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam, one of the most famous of Persian poets, which becomes, in his hands, an aesthete’s drinking song, rather than the Sufi poem it originally was. We slip in and out of meanings, and so it was with Reza.
The Beatles were, of course, a “group,” the first (and best) of many that emerged in England during the early sixties. But, unlike the Rolling Stones or The Who, they did not have a lead singer, nor were they as close to their R&B roots. It is their harmonizing as much as the lead voice that gives them their distinctive, their unique, sound. To this extent, they are reminiscent of close-harmony ensembles; rhythmically, they are also allied to their own origins in skiffle. It is difficult for a solo performer to convey all this, and Reza devoted considerable ingenuity to “filling in the gaps”—with whistling, clapping, and short vocal riffs. Nonetheless, it was noticeable that when Reza was joined by David Anter (percussion) and Phil Maynes (guitar) the songs gained in density and depth. I particularly enjoyed Phil and Reza’s rendition of I feel fine, a number which demonstrated—if demonstration were necessary—just how much melodic richness, harmonic finesse, and rhythmic vitality go to make up a Beatles song. That tide of genius which characterized the sixties and wrote the pages of The Lennon-McCartney Songbook—and which neither of them, singly, ever quite repeated—was here put on stage in a new form & guise, often with oral footnotes from Reza.
It is a characteristic of genius that it looks a little different each time you look at it: it has multiple, infinite, possibilities. What Reza’s performance brought out, paradoxically, was the Englishness of the Beatles’ work. It is a cloth of many interweaving strands, and skiffle, rock ‘n’ roll, and close harmony are just three of them. There is also the English Music Hall tradition, on which they draw so magnificently in their summum album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Outward in performance, genius looks inward; it looks back & down to its own roots. It was the fact that the Beatles found their own roots that made their sound so complex and compelling. They were “out of” rock ‘n’ roll, certainly, but “by” the popular theater of the streets, pantomime, the circus, the pub piano sing-along. They had no static metaphor and that is why, unlike the Rolling Stones, they lend themselves to many and to all. They owe their staggering, enduring popularity to the fact that they were truly of the people—all people, all around the world. This did not prevent them from being “local,” as evidenced in the detail of Penny Lane. In fact, it is the switch from intimacy to universality that is one of the striking features of their work. The “ten-bob note” of Mean Mr Mustard is only a breath away from the “brotherhood of man” to which Imagine aspires.
Reza began and ended with solo renderings, often at the suggestion of the audience. This helped bring about a participatory atmosphere. Most of the old-time favorites were there—Let it Be, Twist & Shout, Ticket to Ride, etc—and the evening ended with All my Loving. It was a genuine tribute to genuine genius.
Some comments. Also see:
Hi Reza, Thanks so much for your concert last night. I had a lot of fun, which is what Beatles music is all about. Your energy and musicianship were great. Kenneth
Wow, that's an amazing review!
can't wait to see it for myself.
This article should be submitted to the Ojai Valley News. great job Reza and Steve
it's very well written, very impressive and professional.
what is missing to me? (since you asked, of course),
is the vulnerability, the humor, the fact that it was all fallible and that made it very inclusive and open to the point where even folks like myself sang.
but that, is the plight of what i like in writing, the home-spun truth that notes the quirky too.
Alright Reza! That was a good review. Maybe there can be a review next time we play in public. I don't like the opening "It is a long way from the deserts of Iran to the rain-swept streets of Liverpool, England" which shows we are totally misjudged but that was made up later on with praises of your performance.
I totall agree with Al -- told Steve already that 2/3 of Iran is desert and in fact the coast of Caspian is lush green and even in Tehran it snows...
other comments about the concert:
thank you for the wonderful music. it was a great event........
Your voice is very good - really nice.
I am still dazzled by you remembering all the music and songs that you played. You have quite an encyclopedic brain. Congratulations
Plenty of nice material and you pulled it off very well. You did a very nice job.
It was a wonderful concert, we enjoed it very much, sorry that we had to leave early.
That was the most fun I had in a long time. I enjoyed it so much. And it was the right balance - starting with classical guitar put me in the right mood.
You pulled it off very well.
Der Wettinger Reza Ganjavi hat seine 2. CD veröffentlicht:
Tanzende Hände aus 3 Jahrhunderten
Er liess sich Zeit, insgesamt drei Jahre, bis er seine zweite CD herausbrachte. Doch nun ist es so weit: Ein Werk mit Stücken mit europäischer Barock- und Renaissancemusik hat der gebürtige Iraner Reza Ganjavi zusammen mit kompetenten und teilweise hochkarätigen Musikern eingespielt. Ein werk, das Ruhe ausstrahlt, das fasziniert und auf diese Weise den Hörer auf eine Insel des Friedens entführt.
In unserem Gespräch betont er es ein paar Mal, wie angenehm es gewesen sei, ohne Druck die Aufnahmen zu machen. Zudem spielt Ganjavi auf diesem Silberling nicht nur die Gitarre, sondern er war gleichzeitig auch Produzent, Tonmeister, Grafiker und Texter des Booklets in Personalunion. "In erster Linie ging es mir dabei um die Qualität, dass die gewährleistet ist," begründet er, "doch so konnte ich gleichzeitig auch noch Geld sparen." Doch musikalisch ist die vorliegende CD das Resultat einer intensiven Zusammenarbeit nicht zuletzt mit den beteiligten Musikern.
Die innere Ruhe, die diese CD ausstrahlt und die zweifellos geeignet ist, sich ein wenig aus dem täglichen Stress auszuklinken und seelische Energie aufzutanken, dürfte jedoch auch mit dem Ort der Aufnahmen zusammenhängen. Nach langem Suchen fand Ganjavi bereits für seine erste CD, erschienen vor drei Jahren, die Kirche in xxxx, einem Dörfchen nicht allzu weit von Bern. Von der Grösse her, der Akustik, aber auch der Umgebung - kein Lärm rundherum - und der Ausstrahlung entschied er sich für diesen Ort der Stille. Weshalb die Musik auf dieser Cd sehr natürlich klingt. "Ein Studio tönt für mich chemisch," kommentiert der xx-jährige Musiker seinen frühen Entscheid, in diesem sakralen Raum anstelle von schallgedämpften Studioräumen seine Werke einzuspielen.
Seine zweite CD "Dancing Hands" (Tanzende Hände) ist aber nicht nur ein faszinierendes, sondern auch ein gefälliges Werk. Denn darauf sind einige Evergreens der klassischen Musik zu finden. So hat der Hörer hier einen Silberling in Händen, der musikalisch bezaubert und fasziniert, aber keineswegs anstrengend ist zu hören oder den Hörer seelischen Wechselbädern aussetzt. Es ist dies Erholung pur auf höchstem Niveau.
Erholung braucht nun bald auch Reza Ganjavi. Denn er war nicht nur Musiker, Grafiker, Produzent und Toningenieur in Personalunion, sondern er ist auch der Verleger dieser CD. Weshalb er zur Zeit täglich mit ganzen Stapeln CDs zur Post geht, um all die Bestellungen zügig auszuliefern. Gleichzeitig muss er aber auch selbst schauen, dass sein Silberling in Plattenläden finden ist (u.a. bei Jecklin im Langhaus am Bahnhof Baden ist sie im Regal zu finden). Doch er kann der ganzen Anstrengung auch viel Positives abgewinnen: "Ich lernte sehr viel", bemerkt er zufrieden.
Reza Ganjavi weigert sich, seit er vor 10 Jahren als Software-Spezialist von den USA in die Schweiz übersiedelte, ein Auto zu besitzen und zu fahren. Auch wenn dies den Job eines Musikers ab und zu etwas einfacher gestalten würde. Unter den Dingen, die er an der Schweiz besonders liebt, hebt er nämlich den Öffentlichen Verkehr besonders hervor. Der Grund dafür ist nicht nur, dass man in der Regel problemlos und zügig von A nach B kommt. Denn Abteile in Eisenbahnwagen, Busse und Trams sind für Reza Ganjavi auch Übungsräume. Denn zu der Zeit, als er noch als Softwareentwickler in Zürich arbeitete und die Musik nur nebenher betrieb, hatte er chronisch zu wenig Zeit zum Üben. Weshalb er sich als Besitzer eines Generalabonnements darauf verlegte, jeweils auf seinem Arbeitsweg zu üben. Nicht Fingerübungen und andere, nicht sonderlich angenehm anzuhörende Sachen, sondern ausgereifte Stücke. Weshalb er kaum je Probleme kriegte mit anderen Passagieren. Vielmehr kriegt er Komplimente und, was jetzt für den verkauf der CD besonders nützlich ist, Adressen von Fans. Denn eine stattliche Anzahl CDs geht an Leute, die er im Zug kennengelernt hat.
Als Dreikäsehoch trommelte er jeweils, wenn er mit seiner Familie am Kaspischen Meer in den Ferien war. Als er dann eine Harmonika geschenkt bekam, war seine Freude gross, denn darauf konnte er richtige Melodien spielen. Ferienhalber gelangte er als Kind in die USA, und dort hörte er auch die Musik der Beatles. Irgendwann kam die Gitarre ins Spiel. Als 15jähriger - mitten in den Wirren der Islamischen Revolution - übersiedelte er in die USA, besuchte dort die Highschool, liess sich unter anderem zum Softwareingenieur ausbilden und begann auch intensiv Gitarre zu studieren. Auf diese Weise entdeckte er als Perser auch die klassische europäische Musik, die ihn von Anfang an wegen ihrer Harmonien faszinierte. Als er nach einigen Jahren seine Eltern im Iran besuchte, führte ihn der Weg über die Schweiz. Und der Blick von oben auf das grüne land mit den Bergen war für ihn so etwas wie Liebe auf den ersten Blick. Vor rund 10 Jahren verschlug es ihn dann tatsächlich dauerhaft hier hin. Denn er wurde beruflich in unser Land versetzt, mit Arbeitsort Zürich. Und Wohnort Wettingen.
Was er an der Schweiz ebenfalls sehr zu schätzen weiss, ist das hiesige Kulturverständnis. Dies vor allem auch im Vergleich zu den USA, wie er hervorhebt. Er meint damit nicht nur die vielfältigen kulturellen Aktivitäten, die man hier findet, sondern zum Beispiel auch eine Mutter, die ihrem Kind zwei franken gibt, damit es diese Münze einem Strassenmusiker in den Geigenkasten legt.
Und nicht zuletzt würden ohne diese Kulturverständnis seine Übungs-Konzerte in Eisenbahn, Bus und Tram wohl kaum so geschätzt. (ymb)
Reza Gandjavi, der Wettinger mit iranischen Wurzeln, hat mit seiner CD „Dancing Hands“ so etwas wie eine Insel des Friedens und der Erholung geschaffen.
Reza Ganjavi from Wettingen has released his 2nd CD: Dancing Hands from 3 centuries
He took his time, a total of three years, until he released his second CD. But now the time has come: A work with pieces of European baroque and renaissance music has been recorded by the Iranian-born Reza Ganjavi together with competent and partly top-class musicians. A work that radiates tranquility, that fascinates and in this way transports the listener to an island of peace.
In our conversation he emphasizes a few times how pleasant it was to record without pressure. Moreover, Ganjavi not only plays the guitar on this silver disc, but he was also the producer, sound engineer, graphic designer and lyricist of the booklet in personal union. "First and foremost, I was concerned about quality, that that was guaranteed," he reasons, "but this way I could save money at the same time." But musically, the present CD is the result of an intensive collaboration not least with the musicians involved.
However, the inner peace that this CD radiates, and which is undoubtedly suitable for taking a break from daily stress and recharging one's spiritual energy, may also have something to do with the location of the recordings. After a long search, Ganjavi found for his first CD, released three years ago, the church in xxxx, a small village not too far from Bern. From the size, the acoustics, but also the environment - no noise all around - and the charisma he decided for this place of silence. Which is why the music on this Cd sounds very natural. "A studio sounds chemical to me," the xx-year-old musician comments on his early decision to record his works in this sacred space instead of soundproofed studio rooms.
However, his second CD "Dancing Hands" is not only a fascinating, but also a pleasing work. For on it are to be found some evergreens of classical music. So the listener has here a silver disc that musically enchants and fascinates, but is by no means exhausting to listen to or exposes the listener to mental alternating baths. This is pure relaxation at the highest level.
Reza Ganjavi will soon need to relax as well. Because he was not only musician, graphic designer, producer and sound engineer in personal union, but he is also the publisher of this CD. Which is why he is currently going to the post office every day with whole stacks of CDs, in order to deliver all the orders quickly. At the same time, he has to see to it that his silver disc can be found in record stores (among others, it can be found on the shelf at Jecklin in the longhouse at Baden station). But he can also take a lot of positives from all the effort: "I learned a lot," he remarks with satisfaction.
Reza Ganjavi has refused to own or drive a car since he moved to Switzerland from the U.S. 10 years ago as a software specialist. Even if it would make a musician's job a little easier now and then. In fact, among the things he loves most about Switzerland, he singles out public transportation. The reason for this is not only that you can usually get from A to B quickly and without any problems. For Reza Ganjavi, compartments in rail cars, buses and streetcars are also practice rooms. Because at the time, when he was still working as a software developer in Zurich and only played music on the side, he chronically had too little time to practice. Which is why, as the owner of a general season ticket, he resorted to practicing on his way to work. Not finger exercises and other things that were not particularly pleasant to listen to, but mature pieces. That's why he hardly ever got into trouble with other passengers. Rather, he gets compliments and, what is now especially useful for the sale of the CD, addresses of fans. Because a considerable number of CDs go to people he met on the train.
As a three-year-old, he used to drum when he was on vacation with his family on the Caspian Sea. When he received a harmonica as a gift, he was very happy because he could play real melodies on it. As a child, he went on vacation to the USA, where he heard the music of the Beatles. At some point the guitar came into play. At the age of 15 - in the midst of the turmoil of the Islamic Revolution - he moved to the USA, attended high school there, trained as a software engineer, among other things, and also began to study guitar intensively. In this way, as a Persian, he also discovered European classical music, which fascinated him from the beginning because of its harmonies. When he visited his parents in Iran after a few years, the way led him to Switzerland. And the view of the green country with the mountains from above was something like love at first sight for him. About 10 years ago, he actually ended up here permanently. He was professionally transferred to our country, with Zurich as his place of work. And his place of residence is Wettingen.
What he also appreciates about Switzerland is the local cultural understanding. This is especially true in comparison to the USA, as he points out. He is referring not only to the wide range of cultural activities that can be found here, but also, for example, a mother who gives her child two francs to put this coin in the violin case of a street musician.
And last but not least, without this understanding of culture, his practice concerts on trains, buses and streetcars would hardly be so appreciated. (ymb)
Reza Gandjavi, the Wettinger with Iranian roots, has created with his CD "Dancing Hands" something like an island of peace and relaxation.
Article by Peter Inglis, a wonderful guitarist/artist/human
reprinted from: http://www.thewholeguitarist.com/musos/Ganjavi_Dancing-Hands.htm
Reza's second album "Dancing Hands" is subtitled "250 years of European favourites" continues his mission to connect classical music with modern listeners. He presents a series of dance oriented tunes played by Guitar, violin, viola, flute, recorder, cello and piano. Reza's wide experience of performing has given him an unerring ear for putting together good programs.
Once again Reza does a great job of making classical accessible to the masses, with his sure footed playing and fine tones.
Here are a few highlights :
TRACK 1 - Canarios - Gaspar Sanz
A lively Spanish Dance "Canarios" It opens with a series of gorgeous tones played by solo guitar. leads into the tune which is then alternatively strummed, plucked and even hammered out in chords. At about 1 min 45 seconds in Reza keeps the feel going with percussive effects on the guitar body. Up to this point we've already heard a veritable catalogue of the colours an acoustic guitar is capable of.
Cello violin and flute then join in to restate the tune with the guitar providing strummed accompaniments.
TRACK 2 - Folias - Gaspar Sanz
Guitar plays through at a steady pace, then fiddle joins in for a rousing, pulse quickening episode as the tempo pickes up.
TRACK 12 - Greensleeves Variations - This is a great arrangement which any gigging guitar - flute duo would get a lot of mileage out of. It could segue neatly into TRACK 15 - which adds viola for more variations on this 'evergreen'.
Art is not an end in itself, but a means of addressing humanity... Mussorgski
The booklet is up to Reza's usual high standard with 20 pages in full colour, and providing information in words and pictures about
the musical styles
inspirational aphorisms from great musicians
information on the performers
This adds a lot of value to the CD and really enhances it's "edu-tainment" value.
I recommend the CD to anyone who wants a sample of how well the classical guitar can communicate - it deserves a wide audience.
TRACK LISTING :
Bach Minuet in G
Bouree from Lute Suite 1
Prelude Cello Suite 1
Prelude for Lute
Prelude 1 from WTC
Scarlatti Aria in Em
Sonata in A
Anon Scarborough Fair
Negri Bianco Fiore
Narvaez Guardame las Vacas
REZA ! Secret Seasons
WEBSITE - rezamusic.com
Reza's first album "In Friendship" is characterised by a gorgeous guitar sound and an uplifting aesthetic.
REVIEW BY PETER INGLIS
Reza's first album "In Friendship" is characterised by a gorgeous guitar sound and an uplifting aesthetic.
The first track is possibly the most requested guitar piece in the world! I know it is at my acoustic gigs... the famous "Romanza", also known as "Spanish Romance", "Spanish Folk Tune", "Romance" and who knows how many other names.
This lovely performance stands on it's own 2 feet - but what surprises and delights is the set of variations which follows. The guitar plays the standard Romanza arrangement again but acts as accompaniment to viola, violin, flute, mandolin, cello, oboe and voice as they play 'songs' of varying sentiment. The set would also make a nice piece played all on say violin and guitar or flute and guitar.
This effort gave me a fresh window into one of the guitar standards!
Some of the more popular etudes by Tarrega, Carcassi and Sor are given a thoroughly music workout - this would be just the thing to get a young person into classical guitar - they have never sounded more attractive to my ears.
Two other pieces grabbed my attention as the CD played - making me exclaim - "What the heck is that piece - I gotta play it!". One was "Serenata Espanola" - an arresting Spanish piece by Malats and the not-too-hard-but-very-sweet Sonata Op.15 by Giuliani.
These 2 pieces for me really show what a musical player Reza is. They are in quite different styles (Spanish and classical) but both are compelling and convincing with a real character and voice of their own.
Oh - and did I mention how good the guitar sounds?
This CD will remain in my player for quite some time!
The beautifully produced 10 page colour booklet contains
Reza's travels and studies
The pieces and composers
Favourite thoughts on music
Credits and thanks
WEBSITE - rezamusic.com