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Gyorgy Ligeti: Clear or Cloudy (4 CD box set, APE)

Gyorgy Ligeti: Clear or Cloudy (4 CD box set, APE)
Gyorgy Ligeti: Clear or Cloudy (4 CD box set, APE)

Performer: William Pearson, Matthew Wilkie, Matt Haimovitz, Richard Hosford, Ensemble InterContemporain, et al.
Orchestra: Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Sinfonietta, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Claudio Abbado, David Atherton, Helmut Franz, Pierre Boulez
Composer: Gyorgy Ligeti
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 4 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 1.03 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Disc: 1
1. Sonata for Solo Cello–Matt Haimovitz, cello;
2. Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet–Members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe;
3. String Quartet no. 1 “M?tamorphoses nocturnes”–Hagen Quartet;
4. Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet–Vienna Brass Soloists;
5. String Quartet No. 2–LaSalle Quartet

Disc: 2
1. Atmosph?res for large orchestra–Vienna Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado;
2. Volumina for organ–Gerd Zacher, organ;
3. Lux aeterna for 16 voices–Choir of North German Radio Hamburg;
4. Organ Study no. 1 “Harmonies”–Gerd Zacher, organ;
5. Lontano for orchestra–Vienna Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado;
6. Ramifications for strings–Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez;
7. Melodien for Orchestra–London Sinfonietta, David Atherton

Disc: 3
1. Aventures–Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez; Nouvelles
2. Aventures–Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez;
3. Cello Concerto–Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello; Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez;
4. Chamber Concerto–Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez;
5. Mysteries of the Macabre–Hakan Hardenberger, trumpet;
6. Double Concerto for Flute and Oboe–Members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Disc: 4
1. The Big Turtle Fanfare from the South China Sea–Alfons & Aloys Kontarsky, pianos;
2. Monument-Self-portrait-Movement–Alfons & Aloys Kontarsky, pianos;
3. Piano Study no. 2 “Cordes ? vide”–Gianluca Cascioli, piano;
4. Piano Study no. 4 “Fanfares” Gianluca Cascioli, piano;
5. Piano Concerto–Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano;
6. Violin Concerto–Saschko Gawriloff, violin; Ensemble Intercontemporain, Pierre Boulez

Tribute to the late composer Gyorgy Ligeti Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006) “With the passing of Gyorgy Ligeti on 12 June 2006 at the age of 83 in Vienna following a lengthy illness, the musical world has lost a true maverick. An independent thinker, Ligeti charted a singular route in his music with the evolution of a voice that is hard to ignore. In this respect one is tempted to put him alongside figures such as Boulez, Cage, Stockhausen and Xenakis when considering the major shapers of late twentieth century composition.” –Evan Dickerson, Music Web International

5 stars, but caveat, no Requiem

Intriguing, amazing, Ligeti, is the music of the late 20th century and beyond. 4 CD’s beautifully done by Deutsche Grammophon, with silk screen paint on top of CD to protect it for generations, and well laid out booklet. 5 stars, but caveat, no Requiem, which is not D.G.’s fault, as this is the complete Ligeti from D.G.’s vaults. $30 list, but currently available for much less.

A tribute to Gyorgy Ligeti (1923 — 2006)

CLEAR OR CLOUDY: COMPLETE RECORDINGS ON DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON is a 4-disc set of Ligeti’s music, recorded between 1968 and 1995 for DG, Decca and Philips. The format is a double jewelcase rather than a box. For anyone who has collected the entire Ligeti Edition on Sony and Ligeti Project on Teldec, of course there are no new pieces here. But for Ligeti devotees, this is an essential set if you do not already have all these recordings in their original form.

The first disc includes both String Quartets, No. 1 (1953-4) performed by the Hagen Quartett, and No. 2 (1968), one of Ligeti’s masterpieces, performed by the LaSalle Quartet. The Arditti Quartet has recorded the definitive versions of the string quartets, but what makes the CLEAR OR CLOUDY presentation extraordinary is that No. 1 is preceded by the “6 Bagatelles for Wind Quintet” (1953), and No. 2 is preceded by “10 Pieces for Wind Quintet” (1968). The styles of the 1950s works are similar, and so are the styles of the 1960s works, and so overall it makes a great double pairing of chamber music. The second disc includes Claudio Abbado conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in live performances of “Atmospheres” (1961) and “Lontano” (1967) from 1988, interspersed with “Volumina” and “Harmonies” for organ, also from the 1960s, “Lux aeterna,” the famed choral work from 1966, featured in Kubrick’s 2001, “Ramifications” from 1968-9, performed by Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and “Melodien” for orchestra from 1971. Again, this is brilliant programming, and the works, powerful in their own right, are enhanced by the juxtaposition.

The third disc includes the vocal works “Aventures” (1962) and “Nouvelles Aventures” (1962-5), both performed by Boulez and the EI, the “Concerto for Cello & Orchestra,” a 1992 recording by Boulez & EI, and two excellent chamber works — “Chamber Concerto” (1969-70) with Boulez/EI, and “Double Concerto for Flute & Oboe” (1972) with Abbado & the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the latter live in Berlin from 1995. The fourth disc includes music for trumpet and piano, but concludes with two of the great works of Ligeti’s late period, the “Concerto for Piano & Orchestra” (1985-88) and the “Concerto for Violin & Orchestra” (1989-93), both with Boulez/EI, and Pierre-Laurent Aimard on piano and Saschko Gawriloff on violin, recorded in 1992 and 1993.

With Ligeti’s death in June 2006, we have lost one of the greatest composers of the late 20th century. For anyone who has not heard Ligeti’s music, this set would certainly serve as an excellent introduction. Collectors will know whether they need CLEAR OR CLOUDY, but I suspect that most serious Ligeti listeners will find ample reason.

DG versus Teldec in a battle for your Ligeti dollar

Two record companies released two competing collections dedicated to a major 20th century composer who passed away in 2006. Since I already owned the Teldec recordings and having heard some of the stuff contained within this DG set, I had no major interest in making this purchase. However as I was making my way through Borders one day, I noticed they had this huge 50 percent off sale on a lot of records. I took a look and found this fantastic collection for the pathetic amount of $16. That’s $4 a disc if you’re counting. So I bought the thing and I’m happy I did. Although much of the music overlaps the pieces contained in the Teldec set, this DG collection has some surprises.

The major works herein are the orchestral and concerto recordings. Abbado leads the Vienna Philharmonic in the most famous pure orchestra works while Boulez takes over for the concertos. The surprises come in the form of the chamber music which includes Ligeti’s two string quartets. Although they lack the grandeur and structual coherence of Elliot Carter’s work in the medium, Ligeti has certainly found his own peculiar voice in this difficult genre.

Overall, if you’re thinking of diving into Ligeti’s output and you don’t know where to start, I would recommend the Teldec 5 CD set. But if you’re hardcore, you’ll have to pick up the DG recordings as well. Together they will be more Ligeti than most people will ever need.

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