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György Ligeti – Mechanical Music (1997)

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György Ligeti – Mechanical Music (1997)
Audio CD (May 20, 1997)
Label: Sony
ASIN: B0000029P2
Mp3 @ 192 kbps cbrspan

Wonderful and beautiful modern experimental music from the great Gyorgy Ligeti!

This CD was part 5 of an extensive Sony Ligeti series that’s sadly soon to be deleted.

Although Gyorgy Ligeti is best known for his eerie, tonally ambiguous choral and orchestral writing (immortalized in 2001: A Space Odyssey), this collection of works for musical automata–player piano, barrel organ, and metronomes–includes some of his most astonishing music.

The player piano pieces are an exhilarating, intensely physical roller-coaster ride through superhuman tempi and dynamic extremes–an intriguing marriage of artifice and human invention.

While clearly indebted to the influence of Nancarrow, Ligeti’s player piano works are more approachable than Nancarrow’s rigorous etudes, revealing the sense of humor that distinguishes Ligeti from his more ponderous contemporaries.

Likewise, the controversial prank piece Metronomes foreshadows the phasing experiments of Reich with its intricate cross-rhythms created by metronomes marking time simultaneously at different speeds. Perhaps most fascinating of all are Ligeti’s compositions for computer-modified barrel organ–a hand-cranked, calliope-like instrument popular with itinerant musicians in the 1700s.

–Dennis Rea

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First off, I should inform you that Sony’s Ligeti Edition series is being deleted so if you’re interested in this stuff, you should pick up the ones you want as soon as you can. Ligeti Edition 5 is a good one. No, it’s AWESOME. If you have any interest in “mechanical music,” this should be essential.

Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes was the main thing I wanted to hear on this collection. The piece starts with 100 metronomes ticking in a dense, ordered mass of monotone ticks. As the piece progresses, as some of the metronomes finish winding down, distinct rhythmic arrangements begin to emerge, swaying and wavy and disorienting. (You can also play a good trick on someone: play this piece in their car and they’ll think the vehicle is about to explode or something.) Finally, one metronome is left ticking alone, then silence. The concept seemed utterly fascinating so I knew it was something I had to check out. Fortunately, it is more than just an idea that sounds good on paper – it is a very enthralling piece of music. In the liner notes, Ligeti discusses the thermodynamic category of maximal entropy, which factored into his considerations in composing this piece. That’s interesting, because in his work on “dissipative structures,” Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine theorized that a given system might reach a “bifurcation point,” at which its simpler processes can no longer provide for order. At this point, Prigogine tells us, the system can either go into a total, entropic collapse, or evolve into a higher form of order. The second law of thermodynamics (on which our understanding of entropy is based) may not be as relevant as Prigogine’s insights. Rather than coming to maximal entropy upon the finale of the single metronome, we can think of it as a new beginning. It’s kind of inspirational in its own weird little way. To get the most out of it, play it on your finest stereo equipment at massive volumes and drown in the sound (gotta emulate the live performance anyway you can).

Another highlight of this collection as Ligeti’s piano Etudes adapted for player piano. In standard form, the Etudes demand reams of virtuosity. Here, they are rearranged for player piano where there are no limits imposed by the performer – even the godlike Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Fredrik Ullen are still MEN, and thus have man’s limitations. Needless to say, these adaptations are stunning and astonishingly fast, from the head-spinning runs of L’escalier du diable to the astonishing gamelan texture of Galamb borong (for two player pianos). Also of interest is Continuum, adapted for two player pianos. It takes the blurry prestissimo to unreal speeds (it cannot actually be played fast enough on standard piano – the original was written for harpsichord).

The barrel organ pieces are very amusing adaptations of early Ligeti with shadows of Bartok, and they are full of the original pieces’ rhythmic ingenuity and vigor, but with flawless mechanical precision and tone control. I think a big reason for my enjoying them is their quirky sound. As for Musica ricercata, personally I’d rather listen to Aimard’s piano version (on Ligeti Edition 3), but the barrel organ adaptation is a pretty interesting spin on the piece, with an arrangement that gives it a very different flavor. The barrel organ also makes them sound kinda proggy, hehe.

Get it. Remember, this stuff’s going out of print, and Ligeti is so good you don’t want to miss your opportunity to have his music!

By Lord Chimp


1. Continuum (Instrumental)
2. Hungarian Rock (Instrumental)
3. Capriccio No.1 (Instrumental)
4. Invention (Instrumental)
5. Capriccio No.2 (Instrumental)
6. Pohme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes (Instrumental)
7. Musica Ricercata/I. Sostenuto – Misurato – Prestissimo (Instrumental)
8. Musica Ricercata/II. Mesto, rigido e cerimoniale (Instrumental)
9. Musica Ricercata/III. Allegro con spirito (Instrumental)
10. Musica Ricercata/IV. Tempo de Valse (poco vivace – ` l’orgue de Barbarie) (Instrumental)
11. Musica Ricercata/V. Rubato. Lamentoso (Instrumental)
12. Musica Ricercata/VI. Allegro molto capriccioso (Instrumental)
13. Musica Ricercata/VII. Cantabile, molto legato (Instrumental)
14. Musica Ricercata/VIII. Vivace. Energico (Instrumental)
15. Musica Ricercata/IX. (Bila Bartsk in memoriam) Adago. Mesto – Allegro maestoso (Instrumental)
16. Musica Ricercata/X. Vivace. Capriccioso (Instrumental)
17. Musica Ricercata/XI. (Omaggio a Girolamo Frescobaldi) Andante misurato e tranquillo (Instrumental)
18. Itudes pour piano, adapted for Player Piano/X. Der Zauberlehrling: Prestissimo, staccatissimo, leggierissimo (Instrumental)
19. Itudes pour piano, adapted for Player Piano/IX. Vertige: Prestissimo sempre molto legato, sehr gleichma_ig (Instrumental)
20. Itudes pour piano, adapted for Player Piano/XI. En suspens: Andante con moto, “avec l’iligance du swing” (Instrumental)
21. Itudes Pour Piano, Adapted For Player Piano/XIII. L’Escalier Du Diable: Presto Legato Ma Leggiero (Instrumental)
22. Itudes pour piano, adapted for Player Piano/XIVa. Coloana fara sfbrsit: Presto possibile, tempestoso con fuoco (Instrumental)
23. Itudes pour piano, adapted for Player Piano/VII. Galamb borong: Vivacissimo luminoso, legato possibile (Instrumental)
24. Continuum (Instrumental)

Here she be:




Big thanks to wharfinger

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October 3, 2008 Posted by | György Ligeti, Music_Classical, Music_Experimental, _MUSIC | Leave a comment