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Unseen Worlds presents new recordings of solo piano pieces by Ethiopian composer Girma Yifrashewa, the first release of Yifrashewa's music outside of Africa. Born in Addis Ababa in 1967, Girma Yifrashewa is a worthy new torchbearer of African pianism. His highly personalized approach to the piano likens him to Ethiopian composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam, while his use of Ethiopian pentatonic scale within the Western Art Music format places his compositions in conversation with more academically minded work. Traditionally Ethiopian in melody, cinematic in vision, and deep in beauty, his compositions occupy a lyrical middle ground between classical and jazz that is supremely listenable yet defies easy classification.
Beginning his musical life at a young age with the traditional krar (influenced by Ethiopian folk legends like Kassa Tessema) Girma did not discover the piano until he was sixteen years old. He enrolled quickly thereafter in the Yared Music School, eventually earning a scholarship to study at the Sofia Conservatory in Bulgaria. Despite a short period as a refugee in Italy following communism's demise in Bulgaria and the consequent loss of his scholarship, Girma completed his conservatory training in Bulgaria gathered through charitable organizations in direct recognition of his talents. Following the passing of Ethiopian composer Ashenafi Kebede in 1998, Girma moved beyond his conservatory repertoire and began his career as a composer, penning the composition "The Shepherd With The Flute" - an homage to Kebede's most famous work, "The Shepherd Flutist." Since then, Yifrashewa has established himself a pre-eminent composer of Ethiopia, touring Africa and Europe extensively on cultural commissions. The emotional directness and unique quality of his work make it destined for wider popularity, still.
"a rare and fascinating example of aesthetic adaptation and convergence" - The New York Times
"A thoroughly engaging set of five solo piano settings ... Adding to the recording's appeal, each of the pieces conveys a satisfying sense of completeness, and to his credit, Yifrashewa consistently opts for emotional directness" - Textura