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Kurtag, Ligeti: Music For Viola / Kim Kashkashian


Release Date: 09/25/2012 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 001719602   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  György KurtágGyörgy Ligeti
Performer:  Kim Kashkashian
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



KURTÁG Signs, Games, and Messages. LIGETI Viola Sonata Kim Kashkashian (va) ECM 001719602 (55:00)


So you think a recording of viola solos sounds daunting or even dull? Think again. This is a wonderful dual portrait of two of Hungary’s greatest composers, one still with us, one recently deceased, both great friends through their mutual time on this planet. Kim Kashkashian has paired the great works for her instrument from the two Read more Györgys—Kurtág and Ligeti. The former is a set of aphoristic pieces in the trademark style of the composer. They are mysterious, ranging from highly chromatic to more Central European folky, a music that continues Bartók’s legacy without imitating him. Depending on the mute or technique chosen, the viola can sound like a viol, a full-throated peasant keen, or an insect. The pieces are universally concise—no matter what their duration. You keep asking, “what can he come up with next?” and he never disappoints. This is a hallmark of Kurtág, and what makes him great: the capacity to endlessly revisit his obsessions and make each essay seem unique.


The Ligeti is a late-career masterpiece. In six movements, each is a complete and invigorating world. The first is one of the best essays in microtonality by an “established” composer ever written, the fourth an astonishing essay in prolix fast music, and the final chaconne is shattering. It demonstrates an astonishing knowledge of string writing from a composer who never played a string instrument, yet whose imagination could take him anywhere. I remain stunned by its authority and risk-taking.


So having praised the repertoire, can I recommend this release without qualification? Alas the answer is no, even though Kashkashian’s playing is immaculate and impassioned. But please realize that I am a “repertoire-driven” reviewer, and so the following is driving this opinion.


On Sony 62309 we have the performance of the Ligeti by its dedicatee, Tabea Zimermann, and it’s a doozy. Somehow there’s just more “edge” all around, on every movement. And you also get the two major wind quintet works and an undisputed masterpiece, the Horn Trio. As for the Kurtág, Mode 230 features what seems to be a more complete version of the Signs, Games, and Messages (24 pieces in comparison to 19 from Kashkashian; it claims to be the only integral recording of the entire cycle) performed quite brilliantly by Maurizio Barbetti, and including four other solo viola works. I feel these two releases cover the ground more comprehensively and creatively than the ECM. But if you are viola-centric, and want two great solo masterpieces for the instrument, Kashkashian’s release will not disappoint. It depends on what sort of repertoire you want to cover in your collection and listening.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1. Signs, Games and Messages by György Kurtág
Performer:  Kim Kashkashian (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989-1997; Hungary 
2. Sonata for Viola solo by György Ligeti
Performer:  Kim Kashkashian (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991-1994; Hungary 

Sound Samples

Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: In Nomine - all?ongherese (Damjanich emlékk?)
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Csendes sorok Dobszay Lászlónak
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Levél Ligeti Verának
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Zöld erd?b?l magyar nóta
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Kromatikus felesel?s
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Virág Zsigmondy Dénesnek
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: In memoriam Blum Tamás
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: In memoriam Aczél György
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: H.J. - nóta
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Vagdalkozós
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: The Carenza Jig
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Kroó György in memoriam
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Hommage ŕ John Cage (Elakadó Szavak)
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Doloroso
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Perpetuum mobile
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Jelek I
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Jelek II
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: ?????? ?????????? ????... / Négy összefonódó test - Gerlóczy Sári kiállítására
Signs, Games And Messages For Strings: Panaszos nóta
Sonata For Viola Solo: Hora lung?
Sonata For Viola Solo: Loop
Sonata For Viola Solo: Facsar
Sonata For Viola Solo: Prestissimo con sordino
Sonata For Viola Solo: Lamento
Sonata For Viola Solo: Chaconne chromatique

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Splendid Recording May 7, 2013 By Joseph Crowley (New Haven, CT) See All My Reviews "Fascinating contemporary music powerfully rendered by a splendid performance." Report Abuse
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