György Ligeti – String Quartet No. 2 Cello (1968)

Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, Trinity Church Square, London on July 13-15, 1994.

Performed by Arditti String Quartet: Rohan de Saram – Cello / Garth Knox – Viola / David Alberman – Violin / Irvine Arditti – Violin

György Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 2 is a string quartet that was composed between February and August 1968.[1] It consists of five movements:  Allegro nervoso Sostenuto, molto calmo Come un meccanismo di precisione Presto furioso, brutale, tumultuoso Allegro con delicatezza It is approximately 21 minutes in duration. It is dedicated to the LaSalle Quartet who gave its first performance in Baden-Baden on the 14 December 1969. [source]

György Sándor Ligeti (28 May 1923 – 12 June 2006) was a composer of contemporary classical music. He has been described as “one of the most important avant-garde composers in the latter half of the twentieth century” and “one of the most innovative and influential among progressive figures of his time”.[1]  Born in Transylvania, Romania, he lived in Hungary before emigrating and becoming an Austrian citizen. [source]

Here is the full concert:

“Now there is no taboo; everything is allowed. But one cannot simply go back to tonality, it’s not the way. We must find a way of neither going back nor continuing the avant-garde. I am in a prison: one wall is the avant-garde, the other wall is the past, and I want to escape.”
– György Ligeti
Said in A lecture at the New England Conservatory in 1993









[Inspired by Viktória Nádas]

Anton Webern – Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, Op. 9 (1911-13)

Webern’s Six Bagatelles for string quartet, Op. 9 (1911-13) represent a critical step for the evolution of atonal musical techniques. They also mark a critical step for the composer, who in his attempt to realize the ideas of his mentor, Arnold Schoenberg, emerged as a true original. For several years, Webern had doted on Schoenberg personally and artistically. When Schoenberg wrote his Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19, in 1911, Webern noted that some of the movements lacked contrast. While Schoenberg apparently gave little thought to the implications of his new work, Webern wrangled with this problem of contrast in the still-emerging language of atonality. Later that year, Webern wrote the internal movements of Op. 9, considering the result as his second string quartet.

In the following year Webern followed Schoenberg to Berlin, where the revered master composed his epochal Pierrot Lunaire, which featuring the Sprechstimme (song-speech) technique. Webern presently composed three movements for string quartet, the second of which featured a Sprechstimme setting of his own poetry. Schoenberg, who had composed a string quartet with the addition of soprano in 1908, was no doubt painfully aware that Webern was in danger of becoming a faceless copycat. Schoenberg’s response was to not comment on Webern’s new work at all. Hurt and dismayed, Webern eliminated the Sprechstimme movement and used the two remaining movements to bookend his second string quartet.Schoenberg was very pleased with the result and even provided a glowing preface for its publication.

The Six Bagatelles require about five minutes to perform. One difference between Op. 9 and Webern’s previous quartet, Op. 5, is that the earlier work contains movements built from sections and contrasts — in that sense, much in the spirit of Haydn. However, the movements of its successor are through-composed, not sectional, and there are no contrasts that require resolution. The level of musical tension is, nonetheless, very high; the work achieves this effect because the material in the first two measures provides ample opportunity to highlight and juxtapose individual musical gestures, and the dramatic envelope is controlled by the density of such activity.
Alban Berg attempted a similar approach in his Four Pieces for clarinet and piano, Op. 4, but Schoenberg felt that Webern was more suited to this particular challenge and persuaded Berg not to pursue this compositional direction. Even Webern himself managed to carve out only two more works in this manner (Opp. 10 and 11) before he exhausted its possibilities. With this trio of works, however, he made a lasting impression upon the keener listeners of his day, and the Six Bagatelles remain among the strangest and most compelling aphorisms in the string quartet repertoire. [source]
Leicht bewegt
Ziemlich fliessend
Sehr langsam
Ausserst langsam
Juilliard String Quartet (Recorded in New York  1970)
Emerson String Quartet (Recorded in New York 1992)
Lasalle String Quartet (Recorded 1968)



Peter Bengtson performing Torsten Nilsson’s Crucifigatur (1968)

“Crucifigatur” — “Crucify him!” — is part of the suite “Seven Improvisations for Organ” by the Swedish Composer Torsten Nilsson (1920-1999), organist, composer and the choir master of Oscar’s Church in Stockholm for about 20 years, where his Good Friday oratorio “Nox Angustiae”, of which “Crucifigatur” forms the overture, received its premiere in 1968, achieving cult status during the years to come.

“Nox Angustiae” — Night of Anguish — which depicts the rage and chaos of the original Good Friday in a expressionist manner, is scored for double chorus, vocal soloists and large organ. To add to the experience, the work was always performed in a darkened church at midnight between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The performers read the music by faint blue light, but the rest of the church was in complete darkness except for the projection of a graphical leaflet on the ceiling of the church.

This recording was made in 1986 by the Swedish Radio, as part of a live broadcast performance of Nox Angustiae by the Täby Church Chamber Choir under Kerstin Ek. Organist: Peter Bengtson.

(Listening using headphones or a full frequency range speaker system is strongly recommended.)

UPDATE! Listen to the complete work here:

About Torsten Nilsson:

Torsten Nilsson studied at the State Academy of Music, Stockholm 1938-1942, graduating as a church musician and music teacher. He continued his studies with Anton Heiler in Vienna (composition and the organ, 1961 and 1965). As an organist he was also a pupil of Alf Linder. He was organist in Kšping 1943-1953, of St. Mary’s Church, Helsingborg, 1953-1962, and was appointed organist of Oscar parish, Stockholm, in 1962, resigning from this appointment in 1979. He was also the director of the Oscar Motet Choir until 1984. He was Teacher of liturgical singing at Uppsala University, 1966-1970, and at the Stockholm Theological Institute, 1964-1970. He was also teacher of music theory at the Stockholm Citizens? School 1962-1973.

Where Torsten Nilsson is concerned, music does not have any single fount, its sources of inspiration being varied and complicated. Beauty, sensualism and eroticism have their contentious antitheses in anguish, paralysis and fear of death. In character his music often comes close to the scream of desperation, and the masterly composer for the organ has also developed an abundant vocal language. His melodies also glide into elevated, sensuously warm atmospheres. His intense, orgiastic imagination is reflected by the culmination of his music in ecstatic outbursts of sound and dance-like climaxes.

[via Peter Bengtson]