COMPOSERS: JS Bach,Ligeti,Mozart
ALBUM TITLE: Labyrinth
WORKS: Works by Mozart, Ligeti and JS Bach
PERFORMER: Dudok Kwartet Amsterdam
CATALOGUE NO: RES10180
The ‘Labyrinth’ title of this enterprising disc was suggested by the music’s intricate counterpoint – from the brilliant fusion of sonata form and fugal writing in the finale of Mozart’s G major Quartet K387, to the micropolyphony of Ligeti’s Quartet No. 2 and the puzzle-canons (some of them incomplete) written as exercises by Bach. For these last pieces the Dudok Quartet of Amsterdam is joined by a group of colleagues.
Ligeti’s Second Quartet, one of his major compositions of the 1960s, is permeated with the type of polyrhythms that were one of his abiding preoccupations at the time. It runs the whole gamut of the various musical characters to which he habitually gave voice – from the central movement’s out-of-phase pizzicato repeated notes that sound like a mechanical instrument gone wrong, to the mad outbursts of the Presto furioso, brutale, tumultuoso and the fluid, dissolving textures of the outer movements. The Dudok Quartet responds brilliantly to all these facets of Ligeti’s persona, and their performance can fully stand comparison with the Arditti Quartet’s 1994 recording, which was supervised by the composer. In the work’s haunting ending, with its flickering violin tremolos underpinned by delicate sustained octaves from the two lower players, I find this new version if anything superior.
In the Mozart, the Dudok players are perhaps not quite energetic enough to convey the first movement’s unusually lively Allegro vivace assai marking, but it’s a likeable performance nevertheless. Both this and the contrapuntal web of the Bach canons make fascinating companion-pieces to the Ligeti.