Ligeti: Musica ricercata; Capriccio 1; Capriccio 2; Monument–Selbstportrait–Bewegung; Invention; 10 Pieces for Wind Quintet; Continuum; Etudes for Organ; Volumina; Chamber Concerto; Lux aeterna; Ramifications; Atmosphères, Artikulation; Glissandi

COMPOSERS: Ligeti
LABELS: Wergo WER
WORKS: Musica ricercata; Capriccio 1; Capriccio 2; Monument–Selbstportrait–Bewegung; Invention; 10 Pieces for Wind Quintet; Continuum; Etudes for Organ; Volumina; Chamber Concerto; Lux aeterna; Ramifications; Atmosphères, Artikulation; Glissandi
PERFORMER: various artists
CATALOGUE NO: 6904-2
György Ligeti is renowned in part for his connections with the cinema. His Atmosphères, for large orchestra without percussion, was used in the soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the piece can be heard in full in a 1966 recording in Wergo’s Ligeti Special Edition, which includes the historic Wergo recording collection in two economical boxed sets. Ernest Bour conducts the South West German Radio Symphony Orchestra in a grainy performance that, like several others on these six CDs, takes you back a bit.

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But that’s an important point. These Wergo versions give you warts and all, and that’s how it sounded in the days of vinyl. The Chamber Concerto, for example, performed by the musicians of die reihe and conductor Friedrich Cerha, the original performers, comes complete with a recorded ambience that for those who’ve learnt the work through this recording seems almost part of the piece itself.

There are some problems, of course. While the recent Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto and Sonata for solo viola are omitted, as well as the early choruses netted by Sony for its rival complete Ligeti Edition, Monument– Selbstportrait–Bewegung appears twice, in different performances. That’s a happenstance of bundling six discs together, the boxes sharing instrumental, orchestral and keyboard repertoire. Broadly, however, the sequence is chronological: earlier works, including Musica ricercata, Lux aeterna and Atmosphères in one box; the Horn Trio, string quartets, Double Concerto and Cello Concerto in the second.

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Students of 20th-century music history will welcome not only the booklet notes, written by such luminaries of West German music as Ulrich Dibelius, but also the inclusion of two electronic realisations from the Fifties, Glissandi and Artikulation. There are also classic recordings of the Two Studies and Volumina for organ, an instrument that Ligeti himself describes as being like ‘an enormous artificial limb’.