György & Márta Kurtág, H.Kikuchi, K.Hakii, Hungarian National Philh.Orch., Z.Kocsis, Keller Quartet, Gy.Kurtág jr. Kurtág 80 (2CD)

BMCCD129 2007

Budapest Music Center celebrated György Kurtág’s 80th birthday in February 2006 with a five-day series of concerts held in the Budapest Palace of Arts and the Music Academy. Important and rarely played Kurtág works were heard, including Hipartita and Zwiegespräch, then played for the first time in Hungary.


...concertante... Op. 42
Hiromi Kikuchi - violin
Ken Hakii - viola
Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Zoltán Kocsis

Keller Quartet
György Kurtág jr. - synthesizer

Hipartita Op. 43
Hiromi Kikuchi - violin

Excerpts From Játékok (Games), and transcriptions
Márta and György Kurtág - upright piano with supersordino

György Kurtág (11-16)
Márta Kurtág (19-22)
Márta and György Kurtág four hands (9, 10, 17, 18, 23-27)

About the album

Artistic director and mixing supervisor: György Kurtág jr.
Recorded live at the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy and the Palace of Arts at the Kurtág 80 Festival, Budapest, 15-19 February, 2006
CD1: 1-5 recorded and mixed by Péter Dorozsmai (Tom-Tom Studio), Recording assistants: Gergely Lakatos and Tamás Kurina
CD1: 6-10, CD2: 1-8 recorded and mixed by Adrian Patrascanu (Palace of Arts), Recording assistant: Tibor Rostás
Digital editing: Péter Erdélyi and Szabolcs Kerestes
Farewell concert recorded at the Konzerthaus Vienna, Mozartsaal by ORF Österreichischer Rundfunk, 17 November, 2006
CD2: 9-27 Recording producer: Jens Jamin; Balance engineer: Andreas Karlberger; Digital editing: Fridolin Stolz

Portrait photos by István Huszti, except Kurtág family photo by Andrea Felvégi
Cover art and Art-Smart by GABMER / Bachman

Produced by László Gőz
Executive producer: Tamás Bognár

The recording was sponsored by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary – In association with Konzerthaus Vienna and ORF


Richard Whitehouse - Gramophone (en)

David Gutman - International Record Review (en)

Philip Borg-Wheeler - MusicWeb (en)

Dan Albertson - La Folia (en)

Pierre Rigaudière - Diapason (fr)

Jean-Baptiste Baronian - Crescendo (Belgium) (fr)

Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier - Classica-Repertoire (fr)

Guy Wagner - Pizzicato **** (de)

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Marco Iannelli - Musica **** (it)

Francisco Ramos - Scherzo (es)

Pablo J. Vayón - Diario de Sevilla (es)

Paco Yáñez - (es)

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ABC Cultural **** (es)

Basia Jaworski - Klassieke Zaken (nl)

Lesław Czapliński - Muzyka21 ***** (pl)

Molnár Szabolcs - Gramofon ***** (hu)

Galamb Zoltán - (hu)

Dauner Nagy István - Café Momus (hu)

Művész-vilá (hu) (hu)

3500 HUF 11 EUR

Currently out of stock.

Kurtág 80 Festival, Budapest | György Kurtág: ...concertante... op. 42 (To Hiromi and Ken)

01 ...fantasia...: Senza tempo – Sostenuto, parlando, pulsato 5:20
02 ...fantasia...: Vivo, agitato – Recitativo 5:41
03 ...fantasia...: Choral (quasi „Trio”) / Ricapitulazione 4:40
04 Coda: Recitativo, ed... 1:56
05 Coda: ...epilogo... 4:57

Kurtág 80 Festival, Budapest | György Kurtág - György Kurtág jr.: Zwiegespräch

06 Introduzione / Tears 3:10
07 Visions / Feroce / Recitativo passionato 4:03
08 Love story / Bird Call 4:28
09 Shadows / Tempest – synthesizer solo / Féerie 4:21
10 Solace 3:09
Total time 104:01

Kurtág 80 Festival, Budapest | György Kurtág: Hipartita op. 43 (To Hiromi)

06 Teneramente 2:21
07 ...perpetuum mobile... 6:11
08 Heimweh - Hommage à Eötvös Péter 6:39
01 *** (sostenuto, doloroso) 4:24
02 ...après une lecture de Rimbaud... - to Anne Longuet-Marx 2:20
03 [oreibasía] - ...hegyet hágék, lőtöt lépék... 4:59
04 In Memoriam György Gonda 1:18
05 Ήρακλείτος ...θυμώ μάχεσθαι... [Hérákleitos: thumôi máchesthai] - Heraclit: It is hard to fight with desires 1:26

Farewell concert, Vienna | György Kurtág: Excerpts from Játékok (Games) and transcriptions

09 Béla Bartók: Canon at the lower fifth (Mikrokosmos Book I) 1:36
10 J.S. Bach: Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 614 - Hommage à Reinbert de Leeuw 2:09
11 Consolation sereine - to Renee Jonker 1:42
12 Versetto (Apocryphal Organum) 0:42
13 Knots 0:21
14 Antiphony in F-sharp 0:48
15 An apocryphal hymn (In the style of Alfred Schnittke) - to Judit Frigyesi 0:54
16 In Memoriam András Mihály 3:26
17 J.S. Bach: Gott, durch deine Güte, BWV 600 - to Tamás Várkonyi 1:09
18 Dirge 0:52
19 Melody (1947) 1:10
20 Fugitive thoughts about the Alberti bass - to András Szőllősy 2:27
21 Hommage à M. K. 0:53
22 Merran’s dream – Caliban detecting-rebuilding Mirranda’s dream 2:01
23 Study to Pilinszky’s Hölderlin 1:03
24 J.S. Bach: Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit: Sonatina, BWV 106 (Actus tragicus) 4:20
25 Study to Pilinszky’s Hölderlin 1:31
26 J.S. Bach: Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 614 - Hommage à Reinbert de Leeuw 2:46
27 J.S. Bach: Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit: Sonatina, BWV 106 (Actus tragicus) 2:33
Total time 104:01

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Kurtág 80
First Edition

Budapest Music Center celebrated György Kurtág’s 80th birthday in February 2006 with a five-day series of concerts held in the Budapest Palace of Arts and the Music Academy. Important and rarely played Kurtág works were heard, including Hipartita and Zwiegespräch, then played for the first time in Hungary.

A video and sound recording was made of the concert series, and these two CDs feature the pieces that have not yet been released on disc. BMC has made it possible for the post-production work following the concert in the studio to go further than making First Edition the customary concert documentation, and also beyond the dry sterility of regular studio recordings.

The original concept, in which György Kurtág would have spoken about his works in the CD booklet, has unfortunately not come to be. An interview of several hours was made, but later Kurtág criticized his own words with the same exactingness, rigour, and even harshness, as he criticizes the sounds and phrases heard in rehearsals of his pieces. One could even say that he required of himself what he requires of musicians: to approach, with all its weight and lightness, the moment when sound is born. And, he felt, he had not come close enough to that moment.

György Kurtág jr. – artistic and musical director of the celebratory release – on Kurtág 80 First Edition:

Our aim in the CD adaptation of the concert recording was not to make the listener believe he is present at the concert, but somehow through the sound also to convey the things he cannot see, because the gesture in Kurtág’s music is of vital importance. With him, if we cannot see the musician, everything changes, even the proportion of the notes. That is why we have tried to find how the missing sight can be substituted with, or rather translated into sound, in such a way that a new dramaturgy, and a new experience, be created. In order to achieve this, it seemed appropriate to place the musical material in a different sounding-space, as well as using the microphones as cameras, moving in closer on the musicians, and then backing away.


In adapting the concert recording of ...concertante... I wanted to make the musical form understandable, ‘legible’. The form of the work, written for large orchestra and dedicated to the two soloists Hiromi Kikuchi and Ken Hakii, always seemed to me complex and somewhat unapproachable. Something like being in a foreign city trying to get somewhere, but whichever direction you set off in, you always end up in the same street. This feeling of getting lost and setting out again meant that when I started working on mixing the piece, I felt I would only be able to convey it to the listener if I discovered and learned the road for myself. For this, I had to cut the piece up into units of two or three minutes. It turned out that I had heard certain ideas as important closures or starting points, when in fact they were only transitional material. For example, the starting points of the formal sections often coincided with the clearly audible entry of brass sections, which I interpreted as being the beginning of an idea, yet they were always moments that broke up the process. This impression may have been because the piece is characterised by a kind of “formal stuttering”.

After learning how to divide up the formal sections, I had to figure out the function of the instrumental groups. A Berlin performance proved very helpful in this regard: I had the opportunity to walk around in a full 360 degree circle while listening to the orchestra conducted by Zoltán Peskó, and it became apparent to me that some of the percussion instruments have an articulatory role and a solo-like characteristic. This generated the idea that to emphasise this in the studio we could do what is not possible in the concert: if the function of the instruments changes during the piece, we can rearrange the orchestra virtually, since there is no need for the acoustic space to imitate stage space. Also at the Berlin rehearsal, listening to the work from the percussionists’ perspective, I made the decision that when mixing the epilogue I should aim for the effect of the listener looking down as from a mountain peak, so he can trace out the landscape marked by the large orchestra from a birds-eye view.


This piece that we jointly composed for synthesizer and string quartet was premiered in Basel in 1999. While working on it, I realised how differently my father and I think. This stems not only from the fact that the concept of music has changed over thirty years, separating us from one another, but also because the same note has different meanings for us. The fact that we do not hear the same thing initially caused misunderstandings, but when we realised it, we were able to ask one another: what do you hear?

Then came: what next? But this happened in words, not music: we communicated our ideas through metaphors, and from this was born a music that we would not have composed individually. One of these experiments was when I said I was thinking of a music, like a drop of water which I know is going to fall, but I don’t know when. In response, my father wrote the first movement of the work. Its title: Tears.

It is impossible to unravel who has done what in this piece, which changes from performance to performance: today there isn’t one note in common with those played at the first concert. We have been working on it for eight years, and perhaps we will never finish. The aim is, after all, to continue the dialogue between us.

Adapting Zwiegespräch for CD meant reworking the composition. I even changed the order of the movements, to make the form more understandable and dynamic. And, most importantly, the hitherto unresolved synthesizer part in Tears here reached what seems to be its final form.


In this work for solo violin, sight, motion and gesture are especially important. In the concert, eleven music stands form a semicircle occupying almost the full length of the stage, and during the performance the violinist Hiromi Kikuchi (whose name the title Hipartita refers to) moves along the entire line. This wandering from station to station was originally supposed to avoid page-turning, and had no particular acoustic consequence or importance. Later, we gave varying degrees and types of amplification to the space defined by the music stands, thus creating a different sound-space for each piece: we highlighted the wildness of Heraclitus, or the distant airiness of In Memoriam György Gonda.

The mixing concept heard on this recording was inspired by a real acoustic phenomenon. At the work’s London performance in the Wigmore Hall, the combined effect of the violin, the speakers and the hall acoustic caused every single note to move in space. The tension created between the notes dancing in the hall and the slow movement along the line of music stands (Hiromi Kikuchi moves eight metres in thirty minutes) was perfectly transferable to the recording.

Excerpts from Játékok (Games) and Transcriptions

The upright piano is not the instrument of concert halls, but that of children learning to play. My father has composed on this instrument muted with supersordino (as he called it) for many years, and has grown so fond of its incomparable, silky tone, that he started to practise on it the four-hand concert programme he plays with my mother. The plan to substitute this instrument for a concert piano in a concert hall was realised in 2006 at the 85th birthday concert for composer András Szőllősy. That was the first time I amplified the upright piano. The initially static settings were later followed by several interventions, each supporting the spirit of the given piece. In the piece In Memoriam András Mihály I created the sense of an orchestral crescendo on an instrument that has a minimal dynamic range. This was only possible if the amplification was not static, but followed the performer’s intentions from note to note. Thus a new concert instrument was born, of which only the long resonance and dying away of chords and the full-bodiedness of the lowest register betrays the fact that the instrument on stage is not a student instrument.

On silence and applause

Silence and applause are indispensable elements of a concert. The greatest musical experience of my life was the thirty-four-second long, tense silence that “sounded” at one concert between the last note of a piece and the applause.

In the post-production work, we have retained only a short silence between ...concertante... and Zwiegespräch. The applause has been removed from both pieces, firstly because it would have broken their interrelatedness, and also it would have contradicted their content, which progresses to inner silence.

With Excerpts from Játékok/Games and Transcriptions, where the presence of the audience can in any case be felt throughout, the immediate outbreak of applause has remained intact, and we have even retained the loud ovation and clapping in time for encores.

The thoughts of György Kurtág jr. were noted down by Judit Scherter
Translated by Richard Robinson

On ClassicBackline

The concerts serving as the basis for Kurtág 80 First Edition were made with the participation of ClassicBackline. ClassicBackline’s audio technology provides an extremely broad dynamic range, thus enabling the performer to achieve personal expression in a hall of any dimensions or acoustics. In this way the listener has the sense that the performer is playing to him alone, and the artist can be assured that every note in all its fullness reaches the farthermost points of the hall. This feature of ClassicBackline can be well exploited in the performance of György Kurtág’s works, to preserve and convey the dramatic strength of the “barely audible notes”.

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