Sunday, 5 June 2011

Gyorgy and Marta Kurtag

Listened to the Kurtags over the weekend, particularly their Bach transcriptions. This is gorgeous:

But they're all wonderful:

On disc they're part of Gyorgy's Jatekok (Games), the ECM recording is the one to get. They can get quite dissonant and harsh, and I recall annoying Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Everage when playing it in the shop at Harold Moores. Barry was a regular with refined music tastes, particularly turn-of-the-century French music, but he didn't like Kurtag.

A knottier example, 'Perpetuum Mobile':

I missed seeing the Kurtag's perform in London, something I deeply regret. I always viewed the Jatekok as a new way to approach the piano, viewing the instrument as a strange wooden box with white and black 'keys' which depress and make sound, divorced entirely from tradition, but think i'm wrong, given the references to other composers. Here's a homage to Christian Wolff:

In one sense then 'games' is how they're played, especially by the Kurtags' four hands: "Teasing, caressing and attacking the piano, they literally play games."

Or indeed quarreling:

I also listened to Kurtag's Kafka Fragmente, songs comprised of elements from Kafka's diaries accompanied by solo violin. There's a pithiness recalling Webern in the short, sketch-like nature, amplified by the trailing off of violin gestures. Vivid and jagged yet hardly daunting.

1 comment:

  1. Don't miss this recent recital (Paris sept. 22): (available till Jan 22)