Ligeti - Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Chamber Concerto, Melodien | BIS BIS2209

Ligeti - Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Chamber Concerto, Melodien

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Label: BIS

Cat No: BIS2209

Format: SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 27th January 2017



Joonas Ahonen (piano)
Christian Poltera (cello)
BIT20 Ensemble


Baldur Bronnimann


Ligeti, Gyorgy

Cello Concerto
Chamber Concerto
Piano Concerto


Joonas Ahonen (piano)
Christian Poltera (cello)
BIT20 Ensemble


Baldur Bronnimann


Described as ‘one of the most innovative and influential among progressive figures of his time’, György Ligeti was able to constantly reinvent himself. In his earliest works, written in Communist Hungary, where he kept his most daring compositions to himself, the musical language is often an extension of that of Bartók’s. Escaping Hungary in 1956 he was able to revel in the freedom to experiment – with electronic techniques as well as elaborate serialism – but he was forever sceptical of schools and steered his own course throughout life. The 1960s and early 70s were a highly productive period heraldeding works such as Lux Aeterna and Lontano, as well as three of the works on the present disc.

In the Cello Concerto and the Chamber Concerto, Ligeti explores in different ways the idea of the concerto as something collective, rather than polarised between the one and the many. The Cello Concerto is striking, and even provocative, in that the soloist often seems to aspire to silence and even absence rather than virtuosic display. The Chamber Concerto, on the other hand, dazzles because here all 13 players are unmistakably present, all essential to the design and character of the whole. Like the Cello Concerto – and the Piano Concerto Melodien can be performed by large orchestra, but also, as on the present recording, with a single string player per part, becoming a natural pendant to the Chamber Concerto. The disc closes with the Piano Concerto from 1988, which Ligeti had begun sketching eight years earlier but was only able to proceed with after having composed his first set of studies for piano solo. Ligeti himself described the five-movement work as a statement of his ‘aesthetic credo’.

Performing these complex scores is the Norwegian specialist ensemble BIT20 under the Swiss conductor Baldur Brönnimann, with cellist Christian Poltéra, and pianist Joonas Ahonen making his first appearance on the BIS label.


Both the Chamber Concerto and the Piano Concerto contain a movement built on out-of-phase rapid repeated notes, like a mechanical instrument in the throes of a breakdown. But beyond this machine-like side of Ligeti’s persona, what comes across in all this music is his unerring ear for colour and harmony. The performances by Baldur Brönnimann and the Norwegian BIT20 Ensemble are brilliant throughout. An indispensable disc.  Misha Donat (Concerto Choice)
BBC Music Magazine May 2017
Poltéra threads his way with great subtlety through the textures that gather around him in the Cello Concerto, a work that subverts traditions far more effectively, if less obviously, than the “anti-opera” slapstick of Grand Macabre. And Ahonen’s playing never loses focus or composure, whether hurtling through torrents of notes in the outer movements of the Piano Concerto or underpinning the melancholy introspection in its central ones with an unadorned single line. The whole disc provides a fine introduction to Ligeti’s unique and often ravishingly beautiful musical world.  Andrew Clements
The Guardian 25 January 2017

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