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Kurtág's Ghosts

works by - György Kurtág/ Guillaume de Machaut / Karlheinz Stockhausen / Olivier Messiaen / Pierre Boulez / Modest Mussorgsky / Domenico Scarlatti / JS Bach / Joseph Haydn / Franz Schubert / Bela Bartok / Ludwig van Beethoven / Henry Purcell / Robert Schumann / Leos Janacek / Franz Schubert / Frederic Chopin / Gyorgy Ligeti / Franz Liszt

Marino Formenti (piano)

Kairos 2 CDs KAI0012902

The music of György Kurtág has been undergoing major reappraisal as the Hungarian composer reached his 80th birthday.This unique CD represents perhaps the most throughgoing reappraisal of his solo piano music, many of the pieces brief and aphoristic, but carrying heavy emotional and historical charges.

Marino Formenti has seleced 70 pieces by many composers, most of Kurtág's own short, quiet and elusive. Earlier music is alluded to (often disguisedly), from Machaut to the composer's deceased contemporaries and friends, in a high proportion of Kurtág's carefully honed works.

It is often forgotten what deep musicological study many musicians put into their interpretations before committing their decisions to recording. Formenti is a formidable intellectual and the accompanying interview delves into connections with other composers which underly most of Kurtág's pieces. Pianistically, much of the disc is very quiet, and demonstrates the complicated pedalling requirements which are important for Kurtág, but there are outbursts of savagery, often quite surprising in well known pieces by the romantic composers.

Formenti (also a conductor) is known for his creative programming. Maybe having heard this cycle through (the latter pieces are death-laden) you will accept Formenti's conclusion that the programme is open ended and could simply start back from the beginning "and round and round it goes' [track 16 of CD 1]...

If uniqueness is a prime criterion (it is mine) for considering a piano recital CD to add to your collection, this one takes the palm.

Peter Grahame Woolf