Les Siècles perform chamber works by Ligeti

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COMPOSERS: György Ligeti
LABELS: Musicales Actes Sud
WORKS: Six Bagatelles; Chamber Concerto; Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet
PERFORMER: Marion Ralincourt (flute), Hélène Mourot (oboe), Pierre Rougerie (cor anglais), Christian Laborie (clarinet), Michaël Rolland (bassoon); Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth


These brilliantly original works are among Ligeti’s most familiar and approachable, and the Six Bagatelles and Ten Pieces are now cornerstones of the wind quintet repertoire – even though the Bagatelles are actually highly skilful transcriptions of piano pieces from Musica ricercata, written in the early 1950s. The Ten Pieces, composed nearly two decades later, display the Alice in Wonderland side of Ligeti, and carry such evocative movement-headings as Prestissimo minaccioso e burlesco’ and Presto bizarro. The latter has a prominent part for bassoon, and its last isolated note is followed in the score by a quotation: ‘“…but” – There was a long pause. “Is that all?” Alice timidly asked. “That’s all,” said Humpty Dumpty. “Good-bye.”’

The Chamber Concerto of 1969-70, ending with what Ligeti once described as ‘an insanely virtuosic Presto’, has been well served on disc. This new recording is comparable with the best (the Schönberg Ensemble under Reinbert de Leeuw, for instance, or Peter Eötvös and the Ensemble Modern), though the slightly dry and closely balanced recording robs the music of some of its atmosphere. Perhaps its most characteristic movement is the third which shows Ligeti’s fascination with mechanical objects, its out-of-phase repeated notes having the ensemble converging and moving apart. The wind quintet pieces, ideally recorded, are played with superb virtuosity.

Misha Donat


Listen to an excerpt from this recording…