Ligeti: Horn Trio; Ten Pieces for wind quintet; Six Bagatelles for wind quintet; Sonata for solo viola

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Ligeti
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Horn Trio; Ten Pieces for wind quintet; Six Bagatelles for wind quintet; Sonata for solo viola
PERFORMER: Saschko Gawriloff (violin), Marie-Luise Neunecker (horn), Pierrer-Laurent Aimard (piano), Tabea Zimmermann (viola); London Winds
CATALOGUE NO: SK 62309
These four Ligeti works cover as many decades and seem to be by four different composers. Yet the two most substantial pieces – the wonderful Horn Trio of 1982, and the solo Viola Sonata completed in 1994 – are clearly related, and have roots that can be traced back to the wind quintet collections of the Fifties and Sixties.

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Both reflect Ligeti’s recent fascination with unequal temperament, and with the ‘out-of-tune’ effect of uncorrected natural overtones. Both are what might loosely be called ‘post-modernist’, evoking traditional forms such as the sonata and Baroque chaconne. At the same time, this is unmistakably music by an East European who grew up under the influence of Bartók: the continuous 3+3+2 rhythm of the Trio’s second movement is forcibly reminiscent of the ‘Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm’ from Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, while the Sonata begins with a Romanian-style ‘Hora lunga’.

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The Six Bagatelles for wind quintet arise out of the same tradition. The Ten Pieces of 1968 show the beginnings of Ligeti’s interest in Alice in Wonderland. Performances throughout this disc – one of the most rewarding so far in Sony’s Ligeti series – are splendid. Not to be missed. Misha Donat