Asko / Schönberg / Reinbert de Leeuw / Netherlands Radio Choir

György Kurtág: Complete Works for Ensemble and Choir

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György Kurtág: Complete Works for Ensemble and Choir Review

by James Manheim

This fine, triple-CD collection of music by Hungarian composer György Kurtág is titled with uncharacteristic imprecision by ECM: it is a collection not of works for ensemble and choir, but of ensemble, vocal, and choral works. As such, it covers a good many of the milestones of this composer's output, which hovered for many years between western Europe and the East Bloc scene, covering developments from the sparse text-setting of the earlier major song sets to the newer accessibility that were explored by other composers, but maintaining a distinctive voice all the while. The performances were painstakingly rehearsed, sometimes under the supervision of Kurtág himself. The set could easily serve as a basic Kurtág entry in a library of contemporary music, but in places it's much more than that. Get your hands on the best piece of sound equipment you can, and sample one of the pieces on CD 2 bearing the notation that the instruments should be "dispersed in space," perhaps Samuel Beckett: What Is the Word, Op. 30b. Beyond the novelty of hearing Beckett in Hungarian, and the usefulness of addressing the importance of the minimalist Irish playwright in Kurtág's own thinking, you get ECM's engineering at its most awesome, as nearly as possible reproducing the sense of space that a physical performance would have had. An ambitious release that lives up to its aims; highly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Four Capriccios Op. 9 for soprano and ensemble
1 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:36 Amazon
2 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:34 Amazon
3 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:48 Amazon
4 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:39 Amazon
Four Songs to Poems by János Pilinszky Op. 11 for baritone or bass and chamber ensemble
5 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:56 Amazon
6 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:24 Amazon
7 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:42 Amazon
8 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:57 Amazon
9 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 09:17 Amazon
Messages of the Late Miss R. Troussova Op. 17 for soprano and chamber ensemble
10 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:46 Amazon
11 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:32 Amazon
12 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:44 Amazon
13 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 03:17 Amazon
14 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:41 Amazon
15 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:15 Amazon
16 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:36 Amazon
17 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:18 Amazon
18 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:55 Amazon
19 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:49 Amazon
20 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:54 Amazon
21 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:35 Amazon
22 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:33 Amazon
23 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:03 Amazon
24 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:22 Amazon
25 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:43 Amazon
26 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:40 Amazon
27 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:57 Amazon
28 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:33 Amazon
29 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 00:43 Amazon
30 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:16 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Songs of Despair and Sorrow Op.18 for double mixed choir with instruments
1 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 03:24 Amazon
2 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 06:13 Amazon
3 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:38 Amazon
4 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:33 Amazon
5 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:50 Amazon
6 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:48 Amazon
Four Poems by Anna Akhmatova Op. 41
7 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:30 Amazon
8 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 02:49 Amazon
9 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 03:34 Amazon
10 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 03:35 Amazon
11 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 17:15 Amazon
Brefs Messages Op. 47 for small ensemble
12 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:11 Amazon
13 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:11 Amazon
14 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 03:31 Amazon
15 Netherlands Radio Choir / Reinbert de Leeuw / Asko / Schönberg 01:44 Amazon
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