Ligeti: Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto

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WORKS: Piano Concerto; Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Saschko Gawriloff (violin); Ensemble InterContemporain/Pierre Boulez
The novelty on this disc is the flamboyant Violin Concerto, written for Saschko Gawriloff. Like Ligeti’s Piano Concerto of the late Eighties, it is a large-scale work in five movements which shows his fascination with non-Western intonation. Throughout, a solo violin and viola in the orchestra are tuned to double-bass natural harmonics, in themselves slightly flat; and, as in the Piano Concerto, ocarinas and lotus flutes lend their unpredictable pitches.


The Cello Concerto of 1966 is vintage Ligeti – not so much a concerto (the soloist, whose famous initial dynamic marking is pppppppp, hardly ever emerges into the foreground), is a subtle study in gradually evolving textures. Here, as in the Piano Concerto, this new disc faces formidable competition from a recent Sony recording by the Ensemble Modern under Peter Eötvös. In the Cello Concerto, Miklos Pérenyi for Sony is a more subtle soloist than Jean-Guihen Queyras, who is too rhetorical in the concluding ‘whispering cadenza’. Honours are more equally shared in the Piano Concerto, though the Ensemble Modern conjures up a more desolate atmosphere in the haunting second movement. The differences are marginal, though, and anyone interested in the new Violin Concerto need not hesitate to explore this fine new disc. Misha Donat