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Ligeti & Levinas Piano Studies

6 études pour piano [premier livre, 1985)
3 études pour piano [1991]
Anaglyphe (1995)
Étude sur un Piano-Espace [1977)

Michael Levinas piano

Accord 472915-2 [43 minsJ

The Ligeti études, their rhythmic complexities seemingly nigh-impossible at first, have quickly entered the mainstream, as evidenced by many recordings. Levinas has the technique to encompass Book 1, but his own music will decide purchase.

He addresses a number of considerations in these pieces. The earliest, Étude sur un Piano-Espace, composed in the Villa Medici whilst he was a recipient of the Prix de Rome, treats the piano electronically, with ring modulation, filtering and white noise - leading towards 'spectral music' of the '80s.

The first Étude is a study of the possibilities of the third pedal, which sustains whilst allowing polyphonic and harmonic separation of music which continues. Timbres inside the piano are explored with effective use of damping strings, extending the scope of the instrument purposively and, in its result, naturally. The third Étude develops complex clusters and an effect of birdcalls. The attractive and readily accessible 1995 Anaglyphe draws on jazz in its pianism. State of the art recording contributes to the refined pleasure of this music, which all shows an imaginative sensitivity to the range of timbre available for the modern piano.

The notes are verbose and inclined towards the pretentious, but the poetic and expressive music of both composers speaks directly. Short measure at 43 mins, but a worth-while release which I have enjoyed.


© Peter Grahame Woolf