Ligeti: Cello Concerto; Clocks and Clouds; Violin Concerto; Síppal, Dobbal, Nádihegedu´´vel

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COMPOSERS: Ligeti
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Cello Concerto; Clocks and Clouds; Violin Concerto; Síppal, Dobbal, Nádihegedu´´vel
PERFORMER: Siegfried Palm (cello), Katalin Károlyi (mezzo-soprano), Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin); Capella Amsterdam/ Daniel Reuss, Asko Ensemble, Schoenberg Ensemble/Reinbert de Leeuw, Amadinda Percussion Group
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-87631-2
Amazingly, this is the first recording of that archetypal Ligeti piece, the spellbinding Clocks and Clouds: a glittering mechanism, star-clusters melting into nebulae, Ligeti drawing as close as he ever got to the minimalists – and to Thomas Tallis and his 40-part motet. Performed with utter precision and a hint of humour it is entrancing. A first recording also for the recent Síppal, Dobbal…, a collection of almost-but-not-quite nursery rhymes for alto voice and four percussionists. Fanciful, funny but not trivial, they are vividly characterful playground-games for adults and yet another reminder that the cosmopolitan Ligeti is still a compatriot of Béla Bartók.

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There is abundant evidence of that in the Violin Concerto, with its nostalgic Aria and impassioned finale, the whole work coloured by finely calculated and poetic ‘mis-tunings’, but there is little of Hungary or anywhere else in the Cello Concerto, one of Ligeti’s groundbreaking studies of shimmering texture and provoking but convincing collage. Both concertos have had several excellent recordings (this is Siegfried Palm’s third recording of the Cello Concerto, his ‘whispering cadenza’ more amazing than ever), and they are usually coupled with other works by Ligeti. For the enthusiast, duplication is hard to avoid, but these performances are fully the equal of any rivals and the couplings are irresistible. The whole disc is a valuable mini-survey of Ligeti’s development over the last 30-plus years and an ideal introduction for the recent convert. It could make converts, indeed. Michael Oliver