LABELS: Teldec New Line
WORKS: Melodien; Chamber Concerto; Piano Concerto; Mysteries of the Macabre
PERFORMER: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Peter Masseurs (trumpet); Schoenberg Ensemble, Asko Ensemble/Reinbert de Leeuw
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-83953-2
Sony’s ‘Complete Ligeti Edition’ has been transmuted into Teldec’s ‘Ligeti Project’, continuing the mission to complete a survey of the composer’s works, with the orchestral pieces still to be recorded. Everything on this first instalment is or has been available on disc before, but the performances of Melodien and the Chamber Concerto in particular surpass their predecessors in the clarity of the recording and the precision and characterfulness of the performances. Both are among Ligeti’s finest achievements, masterly essays in the techniques that he had developed during the Sixties – the juxtaposition of manic clockwork activity with near immobility, the bundles of melodies that evaporate into nothingness.
While Mysteries of the Macabre is a jeu d’esprit extracted by Elgar Howarth from Ligeti’s opera Le grand macabre, with a solo trumpet taking over the coloratura soprano lines, the Piano Concerto is one of his most substantial works of the last 20 years. Pierre-Laurent Aimard has recorded it before, with Pierre Boulez for DG, but this account is distinct from its predecessor – here the pianist is much more a member of the ensemble than a spotlit soloist, so that all Ligeti’s carefully meshed textural effects and elaborate polyrhythms are more thoroughly integrated, at the cost, though, of less immediacy. Andrew Clements