Wergo 40th anniversary Collection

COMPOSERS: Cage,Ligeti,Rihm
LABELS: Wergo
CATALOGUE NO: See text for individual catalogue numbers

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Wergo’s 40th-anniversary collection features a quartet of catalogue items that represent the label’s history. The first disc contains the original 1960 Cologne Radio recording of STOCKHAUSEN’s Kontakte for piano, percussion and electronics, with David Tudor in charge of the demanding keyboard part.

From 1979, JOHN CAGE’s Roaratorio is appropriately subtitled ‘An Irish Circus after Finnegans Wake’, in its hour-long fusion of music, poetry and sound montage. Chamber and solo works by GYÖRGY LIGETI, taped in the early Eighties, occupy disc three. Although harpsichordist Elisabeth Chojnacka has since recorded the composer’s Passacaglia ungherese, Hungarian Rock and Continuum for Sony’s Ligeti Edition, I prefer her earlier readings here, mainly for the instrument’s richer, more vibrant miking.

Similarly, violinist Saschko Gawriloff and his cohorts juggle the Horn Trio’s jaw-dropping polyrhythms with a kind of lighthearted suppleness that he didn’t quite recapture in his Sony Ligeti Edition remake.

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Five compositions on the fourth disc showcase WOLFGANG RIHM’s craggy, far-ranging post-modernist style, capped by Gottfried Schneider’s agile dispatch of the impossibly difficult solo violin part of Dritte Musik (WER 6921 2, 4 discs, £18.99).