Quartetto d’archi del Teatro La Fenice
Sunday 27 September, 3 p.m.
Sale Apollinee – Teatro La Fenice
Ligeti / Kurtág / Bartók
- György Ligeti Quartetto d’archi ni. 1 ‘Metamorphoses nocturnes’ (1953-54, 20’)
- György Kurtág Hommage à Mihály András op. 13 – 12 Microludi for string quarter (1977, 10’)
- Béla Bartók Quartetto no. 4(1928, 23’)
Teatro La Fenice String Quartet
Bartók, Ligeti, Kurtág: significantly the trio of Hungarian composers, all equally distant from the mainstream of their time and all united by a total autonomy in their work, free of theories and fashions, is the protagonist of the concert of the Teatro La Fenice String Quartet.
Dwelling on this uniqueness, which evocatively seems to reflect the peculiarity of the Hungarian language – from its obscure origins and completely unrelated to the rest of Europe – serves to trace, in the dialogue between the three quartets presented, not only the genesis of a part of contemporary music, but also the subtle interplay of relationships, loans and tributes set off between the master and his “pupils”.
It was to follow the lessons of Bartók, expected from New York so he could resume his post at the Conservatory of Budapest, that both Ligeti and Kurtág illegally crossed the border (they were both Hungarians born in the territories ceded to Romania after the First World War) and reached the capital, but here they were greeted with the news of the Bartók’s sudden death.
Inaugurated in the last edition of the Festival, the Quartetto d’archi del Teatro La Fenice is once again a guest at the Music Biennale with its fine musicians: Roberto Baraldi and Gianaldo Tatone on violin, Daniel Formentelli at the viola and Emanuele Silvestri at the cello.
It is against the backdrop traced by Bartók with his latest, most experimental production for quartets, that the first Quartetto by Ligeti (1923-2006) fits in, entitled Metamorphoses Nocturnes, in which the metamorphoses allude to the shape of the change – a sequence of variations taking place a single movement – and the adjective indicates the general tone of the piece. “The metamorphoses of the thematic core produce a succession of contrasting sections, short semi-movements that follow one another seamlessly. (There is only one small break in the middle of the piece, between a light and slow section similar to a choral and a highly contrasting waltz-like variation). The sequence of contrasting sections becomes less clear towards the end, and gradually becomes a form similar to an irregular rondo constructed by the transformation undergone by the original thematic core” (G. Ligeti, 1977). Affectionately deemed “prehistoric” by Ligeti himself, the Quartet bears witness to the linguistic wealth achieved in the period immediately prior to his moving abroad to Western Europe.
Conceived as a tribute to András Mihály, cellist and orchestral conductor for his sixtieth birthday, Kurtág’s second Quartetto per archi (1926) takes the form so dear to the composer of 12 Microludi, or a series of small thumbnails that despite their brevity, show the full expressive range of the composer.
The circle closes with the masterpiece by Bartók (1881-1945) and his fourth Quartetto, which dates back to 1928. It is the most experimental quartet he ever wrote, the one in which, alongside the compositional technique of the expansion of an original nucleus, appears matter, understood through all the indeterminacy of the noise. The stylistic evolution the quartet represents and the instrumental techniques used – especially the percussion – to extend the range of expression would have a tremendous impact on the post-war generation.