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Kurtág: Complete Choral Works / Creed, SWR Vokalensemble

Album Summary

>Kurtág, György : Omaggio a Luigi Nono, for mixed choir a cappella, Op. 16
>Kurtág, György : Eight Choruses to Poems by Dezso Tandori, for mixed choir a cappella, Op. 23
>Kurtág, György : Songs of Despair and Sorrow, choruses (6) for mixed choir & ensemble, Op. 18
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"Gyorgy Kurtag's complete choral works are heard on this 41-minute program, which would suggest that the Hungarian composer- who spent many years teaching at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest-hasn't been much of a choral guy over the course of his illustrious career. That said, he was more than capable of transplanting his trenchant dissonances into the vocal realm. The six Songs of Despair and Sorrow (which also make use of brass, strings, percussion, and more) are evocative settings of Russian poems that summon up a haunting brand of sadness, textually and musically. The a cappella Tandori choruses convey a thick sense of mystery, both in word (several of the poems are Zen-like koans) and sound, as the voices croon, slide, yell, and babble their way through a number of complex emotional states. The singing is jolting in the best sense, as is the Hänssler sound. If the contemporary choral idiom beckons, don't hesitate to give in." -ARG

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
In its concision and intensity, György Kurtág's choral music pursues a similar approach to his instrumental work. All three cycles were begun during 1979-81, though the process of completion was very different. Omaggio a Luigi Nono (1981) evolved quickly, perhaps because expressive consistency overrides technical diversity - the cycle centring on texts by Rimma Dalos that paraphrase earlier sources so as to reinforce their sentiments by seeming to contradict them.

In their relative purity as choral music, they differ markedly from Eight Choruses, to poems by Dezsö Tandori (1984) - aphorisms posing as riddles, embodied in writing that evokes a nearorchestral range of sonority, an 'instrumentation' that is made graphic in Songs of Despair andSorrow (1994). These settings of mainly shortlived Russian poets embody some of Kurtág's most plangent writing, aided by an ensemble - two harmoniums and four bayans (Russian accordions) alongside brass, strings and percussion - remarkable for the way it is subsumed into the chorus as if an extension of that being communicated.

The interplay between chorus and ensemble could have been more tangibly conveyed; otherwise the performances are as responsive to the music's emotional extremes as one would expect from the Stuttgart singers, abetted by the natural sound-balance and penetrating notes. Those deterred by the short playingtime should bear in mind not only the impact of these works but also that they form a sequence complete in itself - beyond which nothing remains to be added.



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Works Details

>György Kurtág (1926 - ) : Omaggio a Luigi Nono, for mixed choir a cappella, Op. 16
  • Conductor: Marcus Creed
  • Ensemble: Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt)
  • Notes: Villa Berg Studio, Stuttgart, Germany (06/28/2006-06/30/2006)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1979-1981

>György Kurtág (1926 - ) : Eight Choruses to Poems by Dezsö Tandori, for mixed choir a cappella, Op. 23
  • Conductor: Marcus Creed
  • Ensemble: Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt)
  • Notes: Villa Berg Studio, Stuttgart, Germany (06/28/2006-06/30/2006)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1981-1984

>György Kurtág (1926 - ) : Songs of Despair and Sorrow, choruses (6) for mixed choir & ensemble, Op. 18
  • Conductor: Marcus Creed
  • Ensemble: Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt)
  • Notes: Villa Berg Studio, Stuttgart, Germany (03/20/2006-03/23/2006)
  • Running Time: 20 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1980-1994