Author Topic: György Kurtág (b. 1926)  (Read 18217 times)

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Offline Brewski

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György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« on: November 12, 2007, 11:18:39 AM »
Via Alex Ross's blog, here's a nice article on Kurtág.  On Friday I'm hearing Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic play Stele (1994), one of my favorite works.  I've only heard it live once, so I'm quite excited.  Here's an excerpt from Paul Griffiths's program notes:

"Nothing is conventional in the work’s sound or in the potency of its expressive gestures. A stele is a slab or pillar inscribed as a memorial: a gravestone. Kurtág’s work is a three-movement symphonie funèbre. The opening is in bold octave Gs, which through slow glissandos and vibratos weep away from confidence; the rest of the adagio—which could be regarded as a slow introduction—is made of frail offerings from different parts of the orchestra, with the lamenting image of a falling minor second ubiquitous.

"The second movement develops a fierce snarling into immense sonorities, and the finale—based on a piano piece of September 1993 written in memory of András Mihály, a composer and conductor who was a generous friend to Kurtág, as to many colleagues—recalls the music for the lake of tears in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Through repetitions of a liquid musical event, the work steps slowly on while keeping its gaze, always and unremittingly, in one place."

--Bruce
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Offline MDL

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 07:00:29 AM »
Stele is fab. I heard this year's Proms performance - I had a ticket, but it clashed with a work do, so I taped it - and I've got Abbado's DG performance. I think there are two other recordings knocking about out there; one conducted by Michael Gielen as a filler for a Mahler symphony, and another one (forget who was playing) that was part of RCA's German music survey. I saw the RCA in a record shop in Newcastle last year and I can't think why I didn't buy it. Maybe I thought I'd be able to pick it up back in London, but I haven't seen it since.

So, Bruce, where are the BPO playing? What else is on the programme? Enjoy.

Offline Brewski

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 07:56:37 AM »
Wow, great that you heard Stele at the Proms.  More details, please!  I have not yet heard Abbado's, but I did get Gielen's, which is excellent. 

Rattle and the BPO are at Carnegie Hall this week.  The program with Stele includes the Mahler 10.  (PS, I went to the Mahler 9 last night and it was pretty extraordinary, but I won't digress...will post something on it elsewhere.)

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

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Offline MDL

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2007, 02:49:39 AM »
Wow, great that you heard Stele at the Proms.  More details, please!  I have not yet heard Abbado's, but I did get Gielen's, which is excellent. 

Rattle and the BPO are at Carnegie Hall this week.  The program with Stele includes the Mahler 10.  (PS, I went to the Mahler 9 last night and it was pretty extraordinary, but I won't digress...will post something on it elsewhere.)

--Bruce

That's an impressive concert. At the Proms, Stele was followed by Mahler 9. Ivan Volkov conducted the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. As far as I could tell, it was a good performance. The violent central section had a bit more bite than Abbado's recording and I heard some details that I hadn't noticed before, particularly in the final section. I wish I'd kept it so I could offer a more detailed analysis, but I had to delete a few items from my hard drive.

Offline Brewski

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2008, 05:38:29 PM »
Bumping up this topic, since several people have commented on the recording of Stele that comes with Gielen's Mahler Second, such as:

Ohww...that version of the Mahler [No. 2] is like wearing a hair shirt. Not my kind of approach. However, the Kurtag Stele paired with it is pretty stunning music and there are very few versions available.

Mike

The only other one I know of is this one with Abbado and Berlin, which I've heard once but not as often as the Gielen.



Other favorite Kurtág works:

Messages of the Late Miss R.V. Troussova (1976-80) for soprano and chamber ensemble - I've heard several singers do this; it requires someone who can become a bit unhinged and lose some inhibitions, as do the next two pieces below.

Scenes from a Novel (1981-82) for soprano, violin, double-bass and cimbalom

Kafka Fragments (1985-87) for soprano and violin - Dawn Upshaw and Geoff Nuttall have been performing this recently, with great success, in a version staged by Peter Sellars.

Hommage à R. Sch. (1990) for clarinet, viola and piano

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline some guy

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2008, 09:52:42 PM »
I never said anything at the time, but this thread got me interested in Kurtág. I had had that two CD composer portrait (Portraitkonzert Salzburg) set for several years. Just never listened to it. Nice set, though. Has that superb Grabstein piece on it, plus ...quasi una fantasia... and Doppelkonzert and and and....

And hunting through my Musik in Deutschland CDs netted performances of Stele (the Gielen) and  Életút (Lebenslauf), and I found the ECM disc of Musik für Streichinstrumente at the store.

I can see that I have a lot of catching up to do.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2008, 04:13:02 PM by some guy »

Henk

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2008, 04:00:43 PM »
I have this set, on ECM:



Nice set, having listened to it again yet.

Henk
« Last Edit: July 10, 2008, 05:02:20 PM by Henk »

Offline some guy

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2008, 12:02:04 AM »
Zwiegesprach..., and one of the few pieces I know where electronics and natural instruments are blended successfully.

This is not to say that there aren't dozens of pieces where electronics and instruments are blended successfully. Because there totally are. I mean it. ;D

(Most pieces by Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram. Several by Tim Hodgkinson. Same for Petru Teodorescu. And that stunner of a symphony (no. 3) by Catalan/British composer Roberto Gerhard. Michèle Bokanowski's Pour un pianiste. Just for starters...!)

Offline Brewski

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2009, 11:58:50 AM »
Looking forward to this weekend, when Kurtág and his wife, Márta, will be here for two concerts--apparently their first visit to the United States.  In the second concert, they are performing together on pianos.

Saturday, Jan. 31 at Zankel Hall
UMZE Ensemble
Peter Eötvös, Conductor
Amadinda Percussion Group
Natalia Zagorinskaya, Soprano
Katalin Károlyi, Mezzo-Soprano
Ildikó Vékony, Cimbalom
Miklós Perényi, Cello

GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Messages of the Late R.V. Troussova, Op. 17 
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Splinters, Op. 6c 
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Songs to Poems by Anna Akhmatova, Op. 41 (World Premiere
LIGETIMelodien 
LIGETI:  Cello Concerto 
LIGETISippal, dobbal, nádihegedűvel ("With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles") 

Sunday, Feb. 1 at Zankel Hall
György Kurtág, Upright Piano
Márta Kurtág, Upright Piano
Hiromi Kikuchi, Violin

GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Hipartita for Solo Violin, Op. 43 
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Transcriptions and Selections from Játékok 

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Guido

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2009, 12:32:15 PM »
Looks like a great event! Wonderful to be getting a world premiere too! The Ligeti cello concerto is another great work, one of his masterpieces I think.

Thanks for introducing me to Stele by the way, it's now probably my favourite Kurtag piece.
Geologist.

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Offline MDL

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2009, 02:07:51 PM »
Looking forward to this weekend, when Kurtág and his wife, Márta, will be here for two concerts--apparently their first visit to the United States.  In the second concert, they are performing together on pianos.

Saturday, Jan. 31 at Zankel Hall
UMZE Ensemble
Peter Eötvös, Conductor
Amadinda Percussion Group
Natalia Zagorinskaya, Soprano
Katalin Károlyi, Mezzo-Soprano
Ildikó Vékony, Cimbalom
Miklós Perényi, Cello

GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Messages of the Late R.V. Troussova, Op. 17 
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Splinters, Op. 6c 
GYÖRGY KURTÁG: Songs to Poems by Anna Akhmatova, Op. 41 (World Premiere
LIGETIMelodien 
LIGETI:  Cello Concerto 
LIGETISippal, dobbal, nádihegedűvel ("With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles") 


--Bruce

Very jealous of this concert, albeit more for the Ligeti. That reminds me, I haven't played Sippal for yonks. I must dig out the CD.

Brünnhilde ewig

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2009, 09:17:13 AM »
For some time now I have on my shelf Kurtág's Kafka Fragments, resting, looking at me accusingly: "Come on, try me again!", and refusing. I didn't know what to do with a piece of music, bouncing off me without impact whatsoever.

Today I read our member's Jens Laurson blog and his article about his interview with the violinist Carolin Widmann. She talks about this Kurtág, calling it painful, and something clicked. I just might get more out of my next hearing with her opinion on my mind. Anybody here familiar with the composition, willing to share thoughts?

Thank you, Jens, it's a great interview - and you are a talented cartoonist too!  8)

« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 09:34:53 AM by Brünnhilde ewig »

snyprrr

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2009, 10:47:26 AM »
Kafka is @40min. for voice and violin... and that's it, right?

I hear if you don't have Kurtag's favorite singer (Hungaroton), it doesn't matter anyway. I say, let the cd accuse away! There is other, more enjoyable Kurtag for sure.

Why some music makes us feel like we HAVE to like it in spite of its being unattractive is certainly a late 20th century conceit. I can just picture you trying to appreciate the "painful"ness, haha, as if it doesn't hurt enough already! oy!!

Kurtag has a few pieces like this, doesn't he?

btw- isn't there a Kurtag thread already?

Brünnhilde ewig

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2009, 01:36:43 PM »
Kafka is @40min. for voice and violin... and that's it, right?


Why some music makes us feel like we HAVE to like it

Neither music nor person can make me feel I HAVE to like it, I decide if any music is worth my time, if I want to learn more about it and then, if possible, understand it.

I tried his Kafka Fragments again and find the violin segments awesome, passionate and tender and intriguing and all kinds of emotions in between. If I were not so voreingenommen about sopranos, I might even like the whole work - but I don't.

So: Great violin, annoying vocal.  ::)

Offline Brewski

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2009, 01:51:36 PM »
I've seen Kafka Fragments several times.  IMHO it requires a very theatrical singer who can plunge into the piece without any inhibitions, and although Dawn Upshaw and violinist Geoff Nuttall have given it a pretty good shot, I have to say I didn't much care for Peter Sellars's direction.  (Review of California performance here)

Lis, is this a CD or a DVD?

--Bruce
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Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2009, 02:09:51 PM »
Don't like him. Much of his music is supposed to be inspired by Webern, except it doesn't appear Kurtág actually understood Webern at all.

Brünnhilde ewig

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2009, 05:44:08 PM »
Thank you, Bruce, for the link to the California performance. Sellars either hits, or he misses. With this one, even though I have not seen it, he misses by a wide margin. It would be interesting to know what Kurtág had to say about it.

I have the Bridge DVD, neutral setting with something like a book case in the background and simple stands for the violinist and the singer. As I said in my previous post, I concentrated on the music, which is carried prominently by the violin; maybe someone who is familiar with this performance can say something laudatory about the soprano.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 05:57:37 PM by Brünnhilde ewig »

Offline Guido

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2009, 11:46:16 PM »
Don't like him. Much of his music is supposed to be inspired by Webern, except it doesn't appear Kurtág actually understood Webern at all.

Well he has other influences too (obviously). He's always quoted as saying "Bartok is my mother tongue" - he is much more tonal than Webern, but shares with Webern that propensity for the miniature, the small and infinitely detailed gesture, highly concentrated emotions and often  pointilistic colourings. He is also one of the finest setters of words of the 20th century - what he does in this realm is often just magical.
Geologist.

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Offline Brewski

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2009, 04:59:53 AM »
I have the Bridge DVD, neutral setting with something like a book case in the background and simple stands for the violinist and the singer. As I said in my previous post, I concentrated on the music, which is carried prominently by the violin; maybe someone who is familiar with this performance can say something laudatory about the soprano.

Oh Lis, I'll have to get this soon!  Although I've not heard the performance, I have heard the soprano, Tony Arnold, a number of times.  She is fantastic, does a ton of new music, and is affiliated with the International Contemporary Ensemble (a.k.a., ICE, and bio here).

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Brünnhilde ewig

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Re: György Kurtág (b. 1926)
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2009, 05:08:41 AM »
See, I knew someone would come up with laudits for the soprano, thank you, Bruce!

The booklet in the DVD gives her c.v. and it is very impressive, but you know by now my prejudice concerning female jodelers!  ::)

 

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