Lux Aeterna – choral music by György Ligeti and Zoltán Kodály; Danish Nationwide Vocal Ensemble, Marcus Creed; Our Recordings
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 16 March 2022 Star ranking: (★★★★)
The putting juxtaposition of two main twentieth century Hungarian voices, utterly completely different in fashion however arising from the identical background, in beautiful performances
You do not have a tendency to consider György Ligeti and Zoltán Kodály although each had been Hungarian and successfully got here from the identical musical background.
A putting new recording, Lux Aeterna, from Marcus Creed and the Danish Nationwide Vocal Ensemble on Our Recordings locations music by the 2 composers facet by facet with Kodály’s Matra Footage and two shorter items alongside Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna and Drei Phantasien nach Friedrich Hölderlin plus works that he wrote while nonetheless in Hungary within the Fifties.
Kodály was amongst Ligeti’s lecturers on the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, afterwards Kodály tried to get Ligeti occupied with his ethnomusicological analysis, however this failed and Ligeti was appointed a trainer of concord, counterpoint and musical evaluation on the academy. Till Ligeti fled to the West in 1956, his data of latest Western classical music was restricted, although Ligeti did handle to have some trendy music despatched from Vienna and when he got here to the West he was clear the place his pursuits lay, he wished to discover this new world. The connection between the 2 composers was a considerably difficult one, the Hungary of Nineteen Forties and Fifties was very completely different, culturally and politically, to position the place Kodály grew up, and the age distinction additionally precipitated issues.
The outcomes of Ligeti’s explorations of his new world are utterly obvious within the shimmering textures of Lux Aeterna the place the clouds of notes shift focus however by no means develop any feeling of impetus. The efficiency is good and intense, with excellent management of the microtonal textures by the singers and the ending, the place the cloud of being drifts off into infinity, is magical.
Ligeti’s two a cappella choruses from 1955, Night time and Morning are maybe the closest he got here to modernism while nonetheless in Hungary. Night time begins as a quiet, repetitive invocation with opaque harmonies, constructing to a climax then dying away. It is stuffed with color and rhythm, although melody and concord appear much less necessary. Morning is stuffed with vividly intersecting rhythmic traces, and we will generally hear the distant inflection of Hungarian folks music.
People music is a stronger presence in Ligeti’s Songs from Mátraszentimrei from 1955, 4 folk-songs from the Matra mountains organized for youngsters’s refrain (right here sung by the ladies of the choir). Robust melodies, vivid rhythms and a willingness to position the folks melody towards fairly a naked background. These are vivid and pleasant items.
In full distinction, Ligeti’s Drei Phantasien nach Friedrich Hölderlin from 1982 are certainly one of his largest choral works. Written for the Swedish Radio Choir these are complicated 16-voiced polyphonic works, although they eschew the micro-tones of Lux Aeterna. The phrases are virtually unimportant, it’s the textures that depend although Ligeti does additionally use fragments of motif, close to melody. The primary is intense, complicated and densely wrought, with shifting atmospheres and hues and fragments of excessive drama. The second is kind of, intense and bleak with luminous moments contrasting with opaque harmonies. The ultimate motion is all jagged edges, but there may be tenderness too. The vocal writing all through stretches each the vary and the strategy of the singers, and so they reply brilliantly.
Kodály’s Esti Dal was written in 1938, at first sight it appears fairly easy. However the folk-song is in reality sung by a soldier in another country praying to God that he may survive the evening, and as such would have had a profound message in 1938. Kodály creates a extremely efficient setting for the melody, sung with poise and readability by the choir. Este is a far earlier work, written in 1904 when Kodály and his buddy Bartok had been simply starting to be influenced by the brand new French music. It feels extremely romantic, however Kodály nonetheless locations the Hungarian melody on the works fore, creating into one thing wealthy and intense, supported by lush harmonies.
Kodály’s Matra Footage dates from 1931 and consists of 5 actions setting narratives about village life. The whole lot from a love-sick swineherd who can be a robber, to younger lovers, to a younger man removed from residence to a village celebration. The melodies have robust outlines and Kodály’s harmonies are haunting, even within the livelier numbers there’s a sense of melancholy, and the ultimate tune with its vivid evocation of the sounds of village life is an actual tour de power from each composer and performer.
The disc has a effective booklet be aware inserting the programme in context, however the texts are simply the unique languages, it’s a must to go to the report firm web site to get translations.
This can be a fascinating disc, permitting us to see the vivid background towards which Ligeti first developed after which rebelled. The 2 mature voices on this disc couldn’t be extra completely different, but the programme permits us to see the continuity too. The performances from Marcus Creed and the DR Vocal Ensemble are merely beautiful.
György Ligeti (1923-2006) – Lux Aeterna (1966)
György Ligeti – Zwei a cappella-Chöre (1955)
György Ligeti – Mátraszentimrei Dalok (1955)
György Ligeti – Drei Phantasien nach Friedrich Hölderlin (1982)
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) – Esti Dal (Night Track) (1938)
Zoltán Kodály – Este (Night) (1904)
Zoltán Kodály – Mátrai képek (Matra Footage) (1931)
Danish Nationwide Vocal Ensemble (DR Vokal Ensemblet)
Marcus Creed (conductor)
Recorded DR Studio 2, Copenhagen, Denmark, 7-8 January 2020, 9-10 September 2021
OURRECORDINGS 6.220676 1CD [50:30]
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