Ligeti: Hamburg Concerto; Double Concerto; Requiem; Ramifications

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LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Hamburg Concerto; Double Concerto; Requiem; Ramifications
PERFORMER: Marie-Louise Neunecker (horn), Heinz Holliger (oboe), Jacques Zoon (flute), Caroline Stein (soprano), Margriet van Reisen (mezzo-soprano); Asko & Schönberg Ensembles/Reinbert de Leeuw, London Voices, Berlin PO/ Jonathan Nott
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-88263-2
Through its use in the film 2001, Ligeti’s Requiem achieved a far wider audience than anyone might have imagined, and it has become one of the few undisputed classics of Sixties’ avant-garde. ‘Cloud music’ was a term coined to describe the dense, apparently amorphous clusters of choral and orchestral sound which make up much of the work: in fact they’re highly organised polyphonic layers, very hard to bring off with as much accuracy and conviction as these performers manage. In Ramifications (1969), Ligeti achieves a similar shimmering effect by using two string groups tuned a quarter-tone apart: as they move in and out of prominence, the harmonic ground is constantly being pulled from under your ears. Microtones are also used as inflections in the solo parts of the Double Concerto (1972), where Holliger, who has lived with the piece for many years, is matched by Zoon and the ensemble in virtuosity and sensitivity. If this Concerto seems to be flirting with tonality, the strongly rhythmic, divertimento-like Hamburg Concerto (1999) embraces it even more strongly, but it’s coloured by the ‘out-of-tune’ harmonics of natural horns in the orchestra. Neunecker walks the tightrope of the solo part with aplomb, and the whole CD has a real buzz about it.