ALBUM TITLE: Bartók, Ligeti
WORKS: Ligeti: Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto; Bartók: Contrasts; Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion
PERFORMER: Jeanne-Marie Conquer (violin), Pierre Strauch (cello), Hidéki Nagano (piano); Ensemble Intercontemporain/ Matthias Pintscher
CATALOGUE NO: Alpha 217
In this disc of 20th-century Hungarian music, Bartók’s Contrasts lives up to its title, with tangy playing in the outer movements and a fittingly smoother approach in the central ‘Pihen˝o’ (Relaxation). The folk influence may also be heard in the more severe Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, though the music has a greater abstract quality. The performers successfully sustain its rhythmic tension, even in the central Lento, holding the foreboding atmosphere between the exhilarating outer movements. The recording quality helps, with superb balance.
Others may have taken the opening Vivace of Ligeti’s Piano Concerto at more of a lick, but the precision here packs a punch, and there’s a sheer sense of fun as the final two movements develop into wild jam sessions. In the Lento there are echoes of the textures of earlier Ligeti, with sliding note clusters and less obvious thematic material. That’s the world of the Cello Concerto. Nothing much seems to happen in the first movement, but its slow unfolding is spellbindingly delivered here.
Jeanne-Marie Conquer captures the lyrical nature of the Violin Concerto, especially in the beautiful second movement. But this is Ligeti after all, so there are wide ranging dynamics, sudden musical irruptions, and complex rhythmic energy as well, which find her and all the players equally involved.