Ligeti: Continuum; Hungarian Rock; Volumina; Capriccio No. 1; Capriccio No. 2

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WORKS: Continuum; Hungarian Rock; Volumina; Capriccio No. 1; Capriccio No. 2
PERFORMER: Irina Kataeva, Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Elisabeth Chojnacka (harpsichord), Zsigmond Szathmáry (organ)
Ligeti is a lucky man – not only are his complete works being recorded, but he is given the chance to record some in several versions. So a comparatively slight piece like Continuum – a study in the aural equivalent of moiré patterns – appears in its original form for harpsichord (Chojnacka playing a very sweet-sounding instrument), as well as in realisations for barrel organ and for two player pianos. Ligeti has had a keen nose for technical trends and his endorsements of cult figures like Conlon Nancarrow are often quoted as a seal of approval. In assimilating their influence, he has humanised their extremes, so there is an element of disappointment in hearing his own Nancarrow-influenced Études for piano adapted for Nancarrow’s preferred player piano. Still, you can get the originals on Vol. 3 of the Ligeti Edition, and here, on Vol. 5, the main attraction is the charming barrel organ built by Pierre Charial, quite unlike a traditional one. On Vol. 6, Ligeti has found a very clean and airy-sounding modern ‘classical’ organ in Switzerland for his Studies and the massively sculptural Volumina. The Three Pieces for Two Pianos are classics of the genre by now, but the value of early student pieces is questionable. Adrian Jack