Saturday 26 September, 6 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
Kurtág / Garuti / Ligeti
- György Kurtág Quartet op. 1 (1959, 14’)
- György Kurtág Six Moments Musicaux op. 44 for string quartet (2005, 17’)
- Mario Garuti Cielo perso / Anima tersa (2009, 10’) world premiere
- György Ligeti Quartet no. 2 (1968, 21’)
It is said that when violinist Irvine Arditti founded his quartet in 1974, the history of the performance of contemporary music for strings changed: the interpretations of the Arditti have left a mark on the repertoire of the 20th century, and each new concert is an event. Among the Arditti’s finest performances have been the world premieres of quartets by Cage, Carter, Gubajdulina, Ligeti, Stockhausen and many others. The high quality and incisive performance of the quartet won it the “Ernst von Siemens” prize, in the past attributed to Karajan and Abbado.
The two major Hungarian composers, Kurtág (1926) and Ligeti (1923-2006), with their most famous compositions dedicated to this training, are the protagonists of the Arditti’s concert; alongside the ensemble will be the voice of Mario Garuti, with a new piece composed for the occasion.
The tribute to Kurtág, Golden lion for lifetime achievement, begins with the performance of the piece considered to be the starting point of his compositional activity. It is well-known that only after his stay in Paris between 1957 and 1958, where Kurtág was a student of Darius Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen and met psychologist Marianne Stein, but especially after his encounter with the music of Stockhausen and his old friend, Ligeti in Cologne – where he stopped on his way back to Budapest and heard Gruppen Artikulation – that Kurtág broke a long creative silence and led to the maturity of his composition in 1959, with the Quartet op.1 . “It seemed that everything I had learned in Paris about rich and concentrated forms of tension had been achieved in Cologne... After my return to Hungary... with op. 1 I began a new life. From that moment my ideal, my aspiration was to succeed in formulating something similar to what Artikulation had represented for me in Cologne, but in my own language” (Laudatio to Ligeti).
Alongside this first work by Kurtág, a recent piece will be performed, Six Moments musicaux, which in the manner of many composers such as Schubert, brings together six pieces written between 1999 and 2005 for the International string quartet competition of Bordeaux, and dedicated to his son. The work is considered an example of the echoing effect that is so often found in music by Kurtág, concerning which pages have been written by critics such as Mark Mazzolini: “Two walls and a void: this is what an echo needs. And here the ‘hurling of oneself’ – momentum and repetition – is the expression of the very human pity for our condition of ‘errant resonances’ which desperately, striking, are lost”.
Dedicated to the LaSalle Quartet, who performed for the first time in Baden Baden, Ligeti’s Quartet No 2 came 15 years after his first composition for quartet, which was still strongly influenced by the influence of Bartók. In between, he had left Hungary – where there was no Western music – and moved first to Germany and then to Austria. The work inevitably reflects and sums up the experience of 15 years, during which Ligeti encountered the most important avant-garde musical currents and updated his style, finding an independent voice. As many critics have noted, in this quartet, one can feel the echoes of the research he had started in Apparitions in 1960 and continued with Requiem, Atmosphères, Aventures, Nouvelles Aventures and Lux aeterna.
Mario Garuti (1957) is entrusted with the novelty offered in the concert of the Quartetto Arditti: Cielo perso/Anima tersa, inspired by the “illuminating lines” of Shakespeare’s sonnet no. 19 (Devouring Time, blunt the lion's paw). “To paraphrase the comment of Alessandro Serpieri, in this sonnet there is the obvious clash between Time, with its distinctive traits of violence and fleetingness, and the archetype (pattern) of youth, beauty, love. Time has wings and its most violent appearance is its fleetingness (fleet'st... carve... hours). This quartet is an athletic consequence of pattern of a strong impact, but dazzling. Models that tend to impose themselves on the inevitable metamorphic, but inevitably fleeting flow of Time. Athletic writing. A clash between two writers: Time and the Composer. The first writes of ineluctable decadence and death, the other tries to steal his poetry, his inspiration from the flow of time. A trick to circumvent Time. An irresistible illusion. The unbearable inspiration... a pendulum... a continuous oscillation between euphoria and melancholy. When I write I do not think of the End” (M. Garuti).