Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006)

Donald Macleod is joined by composer, pianist and teacher George Benjamin, to explore Ligeti's life and music.



He introduces keyboard works, including Continuum for harpsichord, which the composer described as being like 'innumerable thin slices of salami'; Harmonies for organ, for whose first performance Ligeti replaced the organ's regular wind supply with a vacuum cleaner; and his fist Book of Piano Etudes, considered a worthy successor to the Etudes of Chopin.

Music ricercata (1951-3) - No 1 (excerpts)

  • bis bis-cd-1684
  • cd 2 tracks 32-3

    study no 1 (harmonies -1967)

  • elisabeth chojnacka (harpsichord)
  • fredrik ullen (pianos)
  • pierre-laurent aimard (piano)
  • sony sk 62308
  • track 15

    continuum (1968 - excerpt)

  • track 7

    three pieces for two pianos (1976) - nos 1 and 2

  • wergo wer 6905-2

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    Donald Macleod is joined by composer, pianist and teacher George Benjamin to explore Ligeti's life and music. He introduces chamber music, including an excerpt from his Second String Quartet, in which the composer says he had tried to write music the way Cezanne painted; his Chamber Concerto, in which all 13 players are soloists; and his Horn Trio, written in 'homage' to Brahms. Asked to quote Brahms in his own work, Ligeti suggested with characteristic humour that he could use the note C.

    Sonata for solo viola (1991-4) (4th mvt)

  • bis bis-cd-1379/1380, cd 2 tr 4

    string quartet no 2 (1968) (3rd, 4th mvts)

  • dg 474 327-2, trs 20-21

    chamber concerto (1965-70)

  • eckart besch (piano)
  • ensemble die reihe, wien
  • friedrich cerha (conductor)
  • hermann bauman (horn)
  • jack kirstein (cello)
  • lasalle quartet:
  • nobuko imai (viola)
  • peter kamnitzer (viola)
  • saschko gawriloff (violin)
  • walter levin, henry meyer (violins)
  • wergo wer 6903-2, trs 1-4

    horn trio (1982)

  • wergo wer 6905-2, trs 1-4.

    donald explores ligeti's chamber music, including an excerpt from his string quartet no 2

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    He introduces orchestral music, including Lontano, a study in orchestral colour inspired by the sun streaming through the stained-glass windows of St-Chapelle in Paris; and San Francisco Polyphony, which expresses the composer's affection for the city.

    Poeme symphonique, for 100 metronomes (1962) - excerpt

  • Jonathan Nott (conductor)
  • asko ensemble
  • berlin philharmonic
  • claudio abbado (conductor)
  • dg 429 260-2
  • francoise terrious (metronome-meister)
  • pierre-laurent aimard (piano)
  • reinbert de leeuw (conductor)
  • schoenberg ensemble
  • sony sk 62310
  • teldec 8573-83953-2
  • teldec 8573-88261-2
  • track 1

    san francisco polyphony (1973-4)

  • track 3

    melodien (1971)

  • track 5

    piano concerto (1985-88) - excerpts

  • track 6

    lontano (1967)

  • tracks 9, 10.

    Donald Macleod on ligeti's orchestral music, including lontano and san francisco polyphony

  • vienna philharmonic

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    Donald Macleod is joined by composer, pianist and teacher George Benjamin to explore Ligeti's life and music. He introduces dramatic music, including excerpts from Ligeti's only opera, Le Grand Macabre, an unusual work which is often in bad taste, yet is described as containing some of the composer's best music.

    Car Horn Prelude (Le Grande macabre (1974-7, rev. 1996)

  • amanda....laura claycomb (soprano)
  • amando....charlotte hellekant (mezzo-soprano)
  • asko/schoenberg ensemble
  • astradamors....frode olsen (bass)
  • cappella amsterdam
  • daniel reuss (chorus master)
  • esa-pekka salonen (conductor)
  • london sinfonietta voices
  • members of the philharmonia orchestra
  • nekrotzar....willard white (bass-baritone)
  • omar ebrahmim (baritone)
  • philharmonia orchestra
  • phyllis bryn-julson (soprano)
  • piet the pot....graham clark (tenor)
  • prince go-go....derek lee ragin (countertenor)
  • reinbert de leeuw (conductor)
  • rose taylor (contralto)
  • sony s2k 62312, cd 2 tr 16.

    Donald Macleod explores ligeti's dramatic works, including excerpts from le grand macabre

  • sony s2k 62312, cd 2, trs 8-13

    le grande macabre (finale)

  • sony s2k 62312, cd1 tr 1

    nouvelles aventures (1962-5) - excerpt

  • sony sk 62311, tr 9

    clocks and clouds (1973)

  • teldec 8573-87631-2, tr 3

    le grande macabre (excerpts from sc 3 and interlude)

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    He introduces vocal and choral music, including two of Ligeti's Nonsense Madrigals - the serene, slowly ebbing Lux Aeterna (one of the works Stanley Kubrick included in the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey). Plus the Requiem, of which The Times music critic William Mann remarked after its London premiere that its effect was so compelling that he 'would gladly have forgone Beethoven's Ninth symphony after the interval'.