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Thread: György Kurtág

  1. #31
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Janspe, I take your opinions with a lot of weight because I feel like we share a lot of common ground, and you clearly know much more about music than me. So once I get around to checking out that Gubaidulina piece, I will get round to Kurtág's op.27. It sounds like he is quite prolific...? Or at least more so than his idol, Anton Webern?

  2. #32
    Senior Member Janspe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Janspe, I take your opinions with a lot of weight because I feel like we share a lot of common ground, and you clearly know much more about music than me. So once I get around to checking out that Gubaidulina piece, I will get round to Kurtág's op.27. It sounds like he is quite prolific...? Or at least more so than his idol, Anton Webern?
    I was actually just thinking that you simply must get to know Kurtág's music, since our musical tastes seem to be pretty similar indeed. Your love for Webern will certainly lead you straight into Kurtág's aphoristic, shimmering world! I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.

    Kurtág is definitely not very prolific in comparison to some composers, though his output is bigger than Webern's. He works on pieces forever and keeps revising them endlessly; but I think the end results speak for themselves. There's plenty to discover and his imaginative pieces will keep anyone fascinated for a lifetime - well, that might be a bit rich coming from a 26-year-old's mouth, but I'm quite convinced I'll never tire of his works.

    Currently listening to the Songs of Despair and Sorrow, Op. 18. Harrowing stuff.

    PS. I must protest against you saying that I know more about music than you, there's no way of knowing; and I definitely feel like I've only scratched the surface of the world of classical music...
    Last edited by Janspe; Jul-14-2019 at 22:25. Reason: Fixing a typo.

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  4. #33
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janspe View Post
    Currently listening to the Songs of Despair and Sorrow, Op. 18. Harrowing stuff.
    Hey, I just put that on after my last post. This is one of the choral works I'd heard previously, and it is really good! Definitely Webernian, in a pretty true sense – many composers were influenced by Webern, such as Boulez, but if they were trying to write in the vein of his music, they failed pretty miserably I'd say. The influence must have come on more of a surface or technical level, and I don't consider Boulez, Nono, or Stockhausen to be worthy successors to Webern's tradition. So it's interesting hearing music that really got to the heart of what Webern was going for and built on that... though I must disclaim that this is my opinion after 15 minutes of listening.

    But I'm going to seek out those other works you'd mentioned. Definitely excited to check out his other music.

    Are there any recordings you would recommend? I imagine he is not widely recorded.

    Funny, I was just thinking about Kurtág the other day. András Schiff casually name dropped him during one of his Beethoven sonata lectures, saying he had been a student of his at the Franz Liszt Academy.

    Re: knowing more about music, I meant more specifically classical music, 20th and 21st century stuff especially. This whole world of classical music is something I've just begun dipping my toes into over this past winter. Perhaps I know more than you do about hip-hop and drum & bass (& perhaps not), but your knowledge of modern classical music is pretty astounding, especially being that you're a young cat like myself. But in any case, you're right, no way of knowing!

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  6. #34
    Senior Member Janspe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Are there any recordings you would recommend? I imagine he is not widely recorded.
    Actually, quite a lot of his works have been (fortunately!) recorded. Of course there are some gaps, but I'd say that exploring his work is quite easy these days. There's one (relatively recent) release that is absolutely essential for anyone interested in Kurtág:

    Kurtág.jpg

    Don't even try to decipher what the title of the album means; what matters is that this recording brings together a lot of top-notch Kurtág in excellent performances. It cuts through his output very intelligently, and gives a great overview of his art.

    I'm very fond of the Quatuor Molinari and their recording of the string quartet works:

    Kurtág 2.jpg

    As a Webernian these works will definitely appeal to you. It's truly a stunning continuation of the noble string quartet tradition! By the way, the same quartet has also recorded Gubaidulina's four quartets and a few other works, just in case you're interested in exploring her output further!

    There's plenty more to recommend, obviously, but the Kafka-Fragments cannot be emphasized enough - there are plenty of recordings on Spotify, just pick one and go for it; maybe even go through them all! It's a monument of 20th century music.

    The Játékok and the Jelek, játékok és üzenetek - tiny little pieces for piano (for various amounts of players) and other solo instruments - are universes on their own, but I haven't explored then enough to give any detailed commentary. It's most definitely worth it to check György and Márta play them together on a piano - magical.

  7. #35
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Excellent. Thanks.

    I love Reinbert de Leeuw's recordings of Erik Satie's piano music, but I've not heard any of his work as a conductor. In any case, that one is going on the list. Too bad ECM records are so pricey. Perhaps I'm being a cheapskate, but it pains me to spend $35 for a single disc. Anyway, I trust you that it's worth it.

    The Molinari Quartet disc looks great too. In terms of Anton Webern's music, his string quartet and trio music is some of my absolute favorite, so I might expect Kurtág to excel here too. Any interest in the Keller Quartet disc on ECM? They have recorded his string chamber music too. I love their recordings of Ligeti.

    Looks like there are indeed a lot of recordings of the Kafka-Fragments. I'll look out for one of them.

    Thanks for your help. With these contemporary composers, I never know where to start. They have either written mountains of music or very little, and there is hardly ever much variety when it comes to recordings – but of course, quality of performance can really make or break when it comes to music like this.

  8. #36
    Senior Member Janspe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Too bad ECM records are so pricey. Perhaps I'm being a cheapskate, but it pains me to spend $35 for a single disc. Anyway, I trust you that it's worth it.
    I fully agree that it's often annoying to pay these high prices for recordings, but do note that this one has two and a half hours of music on it! So it's not just one CD. It's still pricey (as a poor student I'm always struggling with this...) but I definitely think it's worth it.

    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Any interest in the Keller Quartet disc on ECM? They have recorded his string chamber music too. I love their recordings of Ligeti.
    I must admit that I've been listening to the Molinari Quartet in this repertoire so much that I struggle to remember the merits of other recordings. However, I've heard the Keller Quartet's take as well and if my memory serves me, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Usually musicians who want to play Kurtág take it very seriously (as they should) and in general I've been pleased with the recordings I've heard.

    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Thanks for your help. With these contemporary composers, I never know where to start. They have either written mountains of music or very little, and there is hardly ever much variety when it comes to recordings – but of course, quality of performance can really make or break when it comes to music like this.
    This is so true. The biggest step towards familiarizing oneself with a composer's work is the first one - after that it becomes easier. Have you ever read Tom Service's intriguing Guide to Contemporary Music at The Guardian? It's a collection of articles, each dedicated to one composer, that informs the reader about the life and work of a selection of contemporary composers. I personally found it very useful - even though I don't always agree with Mr. Service - and I've discovered many composers I love through the articles, including Elliott Carter and Helmut Lachenmann.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    Kurtág is my favorite contemporary composer at the moment! Working my way through "Endgame" now, bit by bit. Grabstein for Stephan is the one I've heard the most. I will probably buy a CD to hear in the car, but will try to get something not available on spotify. Suggestions are welcome!

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    Senior Member Janspe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    Working my way through "Endgame" now, bit by bit.
    I'd be very much interested in hearing about your impressions of that work so far, if you don't mind sharing! I haven't listened to it yet; I'm saving it for a rainy day... It feels like such an important achievement, knowing Kurtág's compositional struggles and his tendency not to write in such big forms.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    Grabstein for Stephan is the one I've heard the most.
    Amazing piece. I remember when I first heard it, I couldn't believe my ears - it felt like such a breath of fresh air, unlike anything I had experienced before. To this day I'm very fond of the piece since it introduced me to Kurtág's music so effectively.

    I'm enjoying discussing Kurtág a lot! I have almost no one in "real life" to talk about him with - except my partner, whose enthusiasm for the Wind Quintet and the Kafka-Fragments made me curious to see what all the fuss is about.

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  13. #39
    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    http://www.musicandliterature.org/fe...uel-beckett-pg
    Here's a link to Paul Griffiths writing about Endgame. He is a clever man!
    Right now I'm hearing the last minute of the opera (on youtube) and I want to hear it again in my studio at home, in one go. I was hoping to find something on the instrumentation. AH! The ending is fantastic, just wait! The work is never boring, it has accordion I don't know what I can say more...It seems like everyone who has reviewed it, loved everything about it!

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  15. #40
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janspe View Post
    This is so true. The biggest step towards familiarizing oneself with a composer's work is the first one - after that it becomes easier. Have you ever read Tom Service's intriguing Guide to Contemporary Music at The Guardian? It's a collection of articles, each dedicated to one composer, that informs the reader about the life and work of a selection of contemporary composers. I personally found it very useful - even though I don't always agree with Mr. Service - and I've discovered many composers I love through the articles, including Elliott Carter and Helmut Lachenmann.
    I've not. I'll check it out, thanks. Good call on that disc, Amazon lists it as a single CD for some reason.

    Well, I'll report back here when I decide to shell out the money for that ECM set.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Check out the Kurtag 80 double set. The whole thing is on YouTube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhX_YFFdqbs
    Last edited by starthrower; Jul-16-2019 at 22:43.
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