Ligeti: Clear or Cloudy (4CD)

Deutsche Grammophon
Current Stock:
Matt Haimovitz, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez and others

György Ligeti died in 2006 after a long and productive life as a composer who challenged the creativity of even his most avant-garde colleagues. Teldec produced a magnificent series of CDs, The Ligeti Project, which contain some of the most thrilling performances of the composer's well-known works as well as much of the esoterica: it is big, it is expensive. This 4-disc album, while less inclusive, presents all of the works DGG has recorded and the price is affordable for such a solid survey.

The works include pieces for solo instruments (organ, piano), chamber ensembles from quartets to small chamber orchestras, to the works for chorus, instrumental concerti and for large orchestra. The various ensembles - Ensemble InterContemporain, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Sinfonietta, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Choir of North German Radio Hamburg, the Hagen Quartet, Vienna Brass Soloists, LaSalle Quartet and multiple exceptional soloists - are under the direction of such luminaries as Claudio Abbado, David Atherton, and Pierre Boulez.

The collection of works is a compilation of the recordings by one company, and instead of the presentation being chronological in format, it plays as simply a broad sampler. Yes, the famous works are here, but it is the lack of the very early works - such as the magnificent 'Concert Românesc 1951', an absolutely infectious play of folk tunes and quasi-folk tunes sewn together with some of the most brilliant orchestration in the composer's repertoire - works that held the glimmer of the genius just beginning to bloom, that make the collection less than perfect.

For the devotee of Ligeti's genre the Teldec collection is far more complete. But for the music lover looking to expand horizons, this set has superb performances of the more familiar (and not so familiar) moments in the career of György Ligeti.

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

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