Kurt‡g, Bart—k, Farag—, Stravinsky & Reich

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Faragó,Kurtag,Stravinsky & Reich
LABELS: Budapest Music Center
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Gellért Tihanyi
WORKS: Music by Kurtág, Bartók, Faragó, Stravinsky & Reich
PERFORMER: Gellért Tihanyi (clarinet), Márta Kurtág, Imre Rohmann, Béla Faragó (piano), Zoltán Gaál (viola), János Selmeczi (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: BMC CD 048
The single uncharacteristically long and five characteristically short pieces that form Kurtág’s Hommage à RSch (Schumann) make a clever set of calling cards for Gellért Tihanyi, a veteran of the Hungarian new-music ensemble Group 180, and show that he can establish a mood quickly, and be lyrical, acrobatic, trenchant or self-effacing as required. But in Bartók’s Contrasts I began to feel that, technically assured though his playing is, it’s a bit bland and anonymous – the last movement especially misses out on punch and vitality. And he’s shown up by the violinist, who has greater Hungarian flair, and is also more prominently recorded.

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In Béla Faragó’s Gregor Samsa’s Desires, Richard Clayderman meets Gavin Bryars, John Adams and Steve Reich, and nobody wins. This is truly dreadful doodling which gives the Alberti bass, blue notes and post-modern tonality in general a terrible drubbing. What a relief to turn to the genius of Stravinsky, where the music doesn’t waste a note, and Tihanyi, in his arrangements of three solo pieces, recaptures some of the involvement he had in the Kurtág. But why does he play the first movement on bass clarinet? Finally, in Reich’s New York Counterpoint, he just misses that rhythmic tightness which the piece needs if it’s going to dazzle. A great pity. Martin Cotton