Ligeti: Études, Book 1; Études, Book 2; Book 3/15 (White on White); Musica ricercata

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COMPOSERS: Ligeti
LABELS: Sony Ligeti Edition
WORKS: Études, Book 1; Études, Book 2; Book 3/15 (White on White); Musica ricercata
PERFORMER: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 62308
This disc will be of interest to all lovers of keyboard music, and to composers in particular. With unfailing brilliance, Ligeti has diffracted the moods of this last half-century through the prism of his own originality. His radical works of the Sixties and Seventies were a perfect gloss on those times. The two books of Études recorded here, with fragments of a third which is ‘work in progress’, reflect the return to melodic tonality of the last two decades. Yet the point of the Études, younger composers take note, is that they seem to be about nothing more or less than music. They are devoid of post-modernism, the ironic theatricalising of the past that, as Ligeti himself confesses, is totally foreign to him.

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They result, in contrast, from the same urges that traditionally inspired composers: the desire to elaborate simple ideas into complex, developed organisms. Many of these developments are rhythmically tough, but always with a Debussian clarity of sound. Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays them with steely determination and control, though capturing also the floating quality of many of these pieces. A bonus is the inclusion of the Musica ricercata; a student piece, yet still typically from the composer’s hand.