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I have been intrigued by Pierre Boulez (through Frank Zappa interviews) and Gyorgy Ligeti (through Kubrick!) for a while now but have not taken the plunge. For some reason I am finding it difficult to find some introductory albums that have caught my interest. There are some box sets but I feel that it would be a bit overwhelming for such varied and complex work and would prefer just a few great performances of key works to get me hooked.

What should be my first 3 purchases for each of these 20th century giants to give me some well performed examples of key works.

Thanks for your time!
 

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For Ligeti, maybe the Etudes with Aimard, the String Quartets on Naxos, and then afterwards the Teldec edition.

As regards Boulez, I´m less inclined, but there´s an early Erato with both the 1st Sonata with Aimard, the Flute Sonatina etc.: http://www.discogs.com/Pierre-Boule...ontemporain-Sonatine-Pour-Flû/release/1070604

Then maybe Le Marteau ... and either the Erato Pli Selon Pli (both vocal), or the Sony Eclat-Multiples + Rituel, or the DG Repons (which is praised by some also as relatively acccessible, but I don´t really know it).
 

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Here are my Boulez recommendations. I'll leave Ligeti to those who have a fuller knowledge of the discography there.

Sur Incises (for mixed ensemble), Messagesquisse (for cellos), and Anthemes II (for solo violin and electronics)


Le marteau sans maitre (for ensemble and alto), Derive 1 (for ensemble)


Notations for orchestra
 

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For Ligeti, my choices would be:

-the cello, piano and violin concertos on DG under Boulez
-the Etudes by Aimard (seems we have consensus on this one)
-orchestral works with the SF symphony under Jonathan Nott (Volume II in Teldec's Ligeti series)

It's a shame that this doesn't include any choral music, but it sounds like you already know the 2001 soundtrack.

I'm less knowledgeable about Boulez, but I will enthusiastically second the Sur Incises/Anthemes II/Messagesquisse album recommended by Mahlerian.
 

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For Boulez, I recommend you start with the flute concerto, called Explosante Fixe; The electronic piece Répons. If you like voice them maybe try Bruno Maderna's recording of Pli selon Pli, or if you don't like voice, the ritual for Bruno Maderna.


I don't feel confident enought to comment on Legeti.
 

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For Ligeti, I cannot praise this 4CD set too highly (and I much prefer it to the other two? boxes, as the choices are the essential ones and the discs are packed to nearly bursting 80 minutes):


Ligeti : Clear or Cloudy

It's available on the US Amazon site for not much over $13 plus shipping. You'd pay that for many a single disc.

For Boulez, dig up some of those 2021 discs that Mahlerian mentioned. I'd also add these:



Répons; Dialogue de l'ombre double



Mémorial; Dérive 1 & 2

If you're really liking it, you might wish to add this one:



Get it for Christine Schäfer :p
 

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I'm only going to add that while The Ligeti Project is fairly large and includes a lot and is a great set, and it was supposedly endorsed by the composer himself, to my ears it doesn't always have the best performances of these works. The Requiem in particular is a little lack luster in that set.
 

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For Boulez I'd suggest the 4-disc Erato set from the 90s - if you're buying new you may as well order this than three separate discs:



For Ligeti I'd go for the DG recording of the concertos for violin, cello and piano, the Sony disc of piano works and either the Sony or the Naxos disc of the string quartets:

 
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My recommendations go back to the days of the LP, including some of the ones I imprinted on:

~
 

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This series is great (I don't have this one, but would definitely consider adding it):

Atmospheres, Volumina, Lux Æterna, Organ Study 1, Lontano, Ramifications, Melodien



The Artemis Quartet performs String Quartets 1 & 2 (while included on the 4CD set I mentioned above by other performers, the Artemis must be heard-they studied with the LaSalle Quartet). According to the BBC, "they convey, even more than these illustrious predecessors, every nuance of the music-its bite, subtlety, atmosphere and garish audacity."

I would also recommend the excellent series of Ligeti discs on Wergo. I have a few of them and I consider them essential.
 

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I have all three Ligeti box sets on DG, Teldec, and Sony. Every listener is different, but the way the DG Clear Or Cloudy box is programmed might make it easier to absorb at first. It starts off with just a cello on the beautiful solo sonata, and continues with more chamber works.

When I'm first getting into any composer, I usually stream a number of pieces first to see what I enjoy, then try to decide on a recording.
 
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One thing these guys have in common is that their works often require a heck of a lot of rehearsal time to be faithful to the score. While Boulez was the head of modern ensembles, Ligeti had to fight and, for example, tried to prevent Abbado's recordings of his music from being released. He never again wrote anything for Large Orchestra after finding out, in bitter dissapointnment, that nobody could do justice to his San Francisco Polyphony (1974).
 

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Ligeti had to fight and, for example, tried to prevent Abbado's recordings of his music from being released. He never again wrote anything for Large Orchestra after finding out, in bitter dissapointnment, that nobody could do justice to his San Francisco Polyphony (1974).
Very interesting :cool:



This one has a piece (or pieces) conducted by Abbado; and



I am now all the more eager to review this favourite, which includes San Francisco Polyphony ;)
 
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