LABELS: Sony Ligeti
WORKS: Nonsense Madrigals; Mysteries of the Macabre; Aventures; Nouvelles aventures; Der Sommer
PERFORMER: Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Irina Kataeva (piano); The King’s Singers, other singers, members of the Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen
CATALOGUE NO: Edn SK 62311
A good few of the pieces included on these two volumes from Sony’s complete Ligeti edition belong to what the composer engagingly calls his ‘prehistoric’ period, but even these early works, clearly inspired by the folk tradition of Kodály and Bartók, are quite beautifully crafted. Their wit and inventive onomatopoeic effects have stood Ligeti in good stead in such later pieces as Aventures and its sequel Nouvelles aventures – riotous music-theatre events in which Lewis Carroll appears to cross swords with Dada.
London Sinfonietta Voices have done the a cappella choral music proud, though their 75-minute programme is not one to be absorbed at a single sitting. Apart from the well known Lux aeterna setting, the most impressive works are those dating from the early Eighties – the three Hölderlin Fantasies, and the Hungarian Études, the last of which characteristically presents several poems simultaneously, unfolding at different speeds. The second disc offers greater variety – from the hilarity of the Nonsense Madrigals, sung with stunning virtuosity by the King’s Singers, to the coloratura arias from the opera Le grand macabre, the Aventures, and the haunting early settings of five poems by János Arany. Misha Donat