Natalie Clein, whose previous recording of the music of Ernest Bloch was described as ‘inspired’ by The Sunday Times, turns to his three suites for solo cello as part of a recital of works written in the aftermath of the Second World War. The sombre voice of the cello seems especially apposite in music of such deep seriousness, Ligeti’s short sonata providing an energetic and life-affirming finale.
In 1961, the young Hungarian composer György Ligeti did a pretty amazing thing: he wrote a piece called Atmospheres, in which almost nothing happens, extremely slowly. The European avant-garde was still obsessed with quantifying musical parameters, with crystallizing pitch, duration, timbre, and register into rigid regions, radiating with speed and hardness – and then Ligeti cast out this massive orchestral goo, the enemy of all geometries, devoid of contours and as slow and gaseous as a trip through Saturn. A paean to all mysterious and intangible, Atmospheres initialized both a brilliant swerve from the music of its time, and a kind of life-journey for Ligeti's own incipient voice: a musical vision on the verge of disintegration, inventively trying to put itself back together, to re-integrate.
The unifying idea of the concerto provides a way to get a handle on György Ligeti's experimental spirit, for a concerto here represents several fundamentally different things. The Cello Concerto of 1966, right at the height of Ligeti's exuberantly fearless adventures in 1960s Germany, might almost be called an anti-concerto, with the cello doing its best to hang on the edge of silence. Sample the very first movement, both for the precision of cellist Christian Poltéra's work at the low end of the dynamic spectrum and for the ideally clean engineering work by the BIS label, operating in a variety of Norwegian venues and mastering them, well, masterfully. The Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments and the Melodien are essentially concertos for orchestra, with distinctive roles for each of the instruments, while the five-movement Piano Concerto, completed in 1988, is a fine and technically demanding example of Ligeti's later pulse-based, polyrhythmic style. Throughout, Norway's BIT20 Ensemble, a group of flexible size, delivers superb Ligeti performances, with the requisite laser-like focus on individual details but not losing a certain liveliness and humor that underlie it all. A superior Ligeti album.
Alpha is launching a collaboration with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and its new artistic director, composer-conductor Matthias Pintscher. This new series will alternate 20th-century landmarks and new works, providing an opportunity to show to advantage the great quality of the EIC musicians in the major masterpieces of the last century and to discover scores by composers of the 21st century.
Alberto Rosado showcases some of the most significant modern composers in this well-considered programme. Inevitably he’s up against fierce competition, not least Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s recordings of both Ligeti’s Ricercata (included on the disc which received Gramophone’s Contemporary Award in 1997) and the complete Vingt Regards.
In 2014 we celebrate Jean-Philippe Rameau s 250th anniversary. To highlight his wonderful compositions, this disc also presents works by 20th-century musical pioneer Ligeti. Rameau and Ligeti have a similar approach to generating music, and their short pieces are of similar drama and effect. Krier steers her own path between sentimental and spiky, with a bright, forthright tone. “Does it make sense to combine the music of a French Baroque master with avant-garde works written in the 1950‘s? Can one place these two composers – Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and György Ligeti (1923-2006) – side by side? Do they have anything in common, and, if so, how can such traits be viewed from the vantage points of two entirely different centuries?
These chamber works bring Sony's adventurous, timely Ligeti series to a natural pinnacle. Long the challenger of stylistic stasis and customary demonstrations of excellence, Ligeti has outdone himself here (as he did with the fantastic Mechanical Music release). The Trio for Violin, Horn, and Piano (1982) challenges its players to stay in step with each other even while expanding virtuosity to the breaking point. Marie-Luise Neunecker plays such full horn parts that they roll flow over the tonal bounds, as does Saschko Gawriloff's violin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard's piano… –Andrew Bartlett..
This trio recording came out six years after the fact. Recorded in 1996 and slated for a 1998 release on K'EY Records, it was buried together with the label and finally unearthed in 2002 by Ecstatic Yod. And ecstatic it is: Greg Goodman, Henry Kaiser, and Lukas Ligeti deliver an overwhelming 79 minutes of energy-driven free improvisation. Kaiser shifts from track to track between his bass and acoustic and electric guitars. Goodman stays mostly on piano keys, but he also explores the instrument's bowels. As for Ligeti, he propels the group in a non-generic way, locking into a jagged avant-prog beat one minute, bursting into ecstatic jazz-style free form the next.
György Ligeti was a member in good standing of the musical avant-garde of the mid-20th century, while Samuel Barber was, at the same time, one of the most prominent neo-Romantic composers. They would seem to be an odd couple on this 2013 release on ECM New Series, for Ligeti's two string quartets and Barber's Molto adagio from the String Quartet No. 2 (known in various arrangements as "Barber's Adagio") appear to come from opposing camps, if not different worlds.