Ernö Király

Phoenix: The Music Of Ernö Király

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The music of Yugoslavian composer Ernö Király had all but vanished from public sight following the annexation by Serbia of the autonomous province of Vojvodine (where he is based) in 1988 and the Yugoslavian war that ensued. Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer curated this collection for ReR Megacorp, and it is the only chunk of music by Király available on anything other than a local scale for a long time. It serves as an overview more than an introduction, with works from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s being represented. Tickmayer included two works for tape and voice ("The Sky" and "Spiral," the latter also including real instruments), works for ensemble, and works for solo modified folk instrument. "Phoenix" makes unconventional use of a prepared cymbalom, while "Perpetuum Mobile" showcases the zitherphone, a 58-string quarter-tone mega zither. These two pieces will be of particular interest to fans of Harry Partch, as they swim similar waters. But the highlight of the set is "Movements," a suite represented by four sections performed by Ensemble ACEZANTEZ. This is contemporary classical music completely remote from the European cultural centers. It includes invented instruments, small objects, Eastern and folk influences, microtonality, improvisation, and a highly peculiar sense of pathos. Although Tickmayer's essay on Király and his music is a godsend, the lack of information pertaining to the recordings is inexcusable: no dates, provenance, or musicians mentioned! Not even the soloists (the singer in "Spiral," the cellist in "Reflections No. 2") are credited. Nonetheless, Phoenix remains an essential item for those into contemporary music from the Balkans.

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