Saturday, January 13, 2007

We hardly need to use our ears...

I have been super-busy with school and whatnot, so I don't really have a whole boatload of time to blog. However, I thought I'd mention that I have been on a serious Ligeti kick lately. Particularly Aimard's recording of Musica ricercata for Sony's Ligeti Edition. Compared to other avant-garde composers, like Boulez and Stockhausen (not that there is some sort of similarity between the three), Ligeti's minimal, tonal music reminds me of Stravinsky at his best (like the Symphony of Psalms). It is consistently beautiful, but challenging, music. The second "movement" of Musica ricercata, "Mesto, rigido e ceremoniale," received some currency with its use in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

Lux aeterna
and Atmosphères both were featured in 2001, which might be Kubrick's grandest accomplishment. However, beyond the "Kubrick presents Ligeti" business, one can see that Ligeti's range was far, far broader than the post-Webernian serialism imposed by Boulez on the music world. His "Selbsportrait mit Reich und Riley (und Chopin ist auch dabei)" proved that the minimalists had some serious competition from a composer whose music was minimal before it was hip. However, despite Ligeti's precision and compact tonality, there is always an unsettling side to the music. It always seems ready to devolve into atonality. The road from Musica to Boulez' Notations does not, necessarily, always seem that long. Of course, total chromaticism - thanks to Wagner's paradigmatic innovations with Tristan - is the last step forward before things fall apart. It is for the best, then, that Ligeti decided to stop where the road ends.


At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

Splendid! Ligeti is terrific.

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

It's one of those, things, I guess, but I had never gotten into him until recently.

The hype was true.

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