György Kurtág

György Kurtág (born 1926)

Nationality: Hungarian | Romanian
Born: February 19, 1926, Lugoj, Romania (age 94)

12 Microludes for String Quartet, Op. 13, Hommage à Mihály András

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
0:51 I.
0:22 II.
0:29 III.
0:17 IV. Presto
2:00 V. Lontano, calmo, appena sentito
1:15 VI.
0:35 VII.
0:23 VIII. Con slancia
0:57 IX.
0:33 X. Molto agitato
1:47 XI.
1:06 XII. Leggiero, con moto, dolce
Duration: 10 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1977 (age 50-51)
3 recordings, 25 videos
autoopen autoplay
9:09
Molinari Quartet
0:53
Avanti Quartet
I.
0:19
Avanti Quartet
II.
0:24
Avanti Quartet
III.
0:18
Avanti Quartet
IV. Presto
1:29
Avanti Quartet
V. Lontano, calmo, appena sentito
1:07
Avanti Quartet
VI.
0:28
Avanti Quartet
VII.
0:23
Avanti Quartet
VIII. Con slancia
0:58
Avanti Quartet
IX.
0:33
Avanti Quartet
X. Molto agitato
1:47
Avanti Quartet
XI.
0:59
Avanti Quartet
XII. Leggiero, con moto, dolce
0:49
Athena String Quartet
I.
0:25
Athena String Quartet
II.
0:33
Athena String Quartet
III.
0:16
Athena String Quartet
IV. Presto
2:30
Athena String Quartet
V. Lontano, calmo, appena sentito
1:23
Athena String Quartet
VI.
0:41
Athena String Quartet
VII.
0:22
Athena String Quartet
VIII. Con slancia
0:56
Athena String Quartet
IX.
0:32
Athena String Quartet
X. Molto agitato
1:46
Athena String Quartet
XI.
1:12
Athena String Quartet
XII. Leggiero, con moto, dolce
From Kai Christiansen

György Kurtág (1926-)

"Hommage à Mihály András", 12 Microludes, (for String Quartet) Op. 13, (1977)
György KurtágGyörgy Kurtág is a contemporary Hungarian Jewish composer in his mid-eighties living in France. A cursory review of his relatively small oeuvre (comprising about fifty numbers works) shows a strong penchant for chamber music, a genre in which he is also a meticulous master coach. Kurtág has composed at least four works for string quartet bringing utterly modern techniques and sensibilities to this traditional yet infinitely flexible ensemble at the center of chamber music. Significantly, Kurtág chose his first string quartet of 1959 as his official opus number one, a telling inauguration of his mature catalog of published works. His second composition for string quartet was written in 1977 to honor the 60th birthday of Mihály András, a Hungarian musician, composer, conductor and administrator of significant influence.

Kurtág's "Hommage à Mihály András" is a set of twelve "microludes", each lasting no more than a few minutes, most under a minute and several under thirty seconds. Such extreme brevity (or dense concision) is characteristic of Kurtág and also an unspoken homage to the Viennese modernist Anton Webern whose music had a profound impact on Kurtág what to speak of the entire post-WWII avant-garde. Webern similarly composed some famously pithy works for string quartet before WWI with his five pieces and six bagatelles clocking in with similar micro-durations, music of astonishing effect due precisely to its epigrammatic ephemerality. Like a set of tiny Zen koans, each of Kurtág's twelve microludes exacts the utmost of the modern "sound byte" attention span, or, in the best sense of a twelve-course tasting menu, a delicious series of sound bites. But these are not extracts but complete works in miniature. Micro-moods, micro-gestures, micro-textures, micro-quartets, Kurtág's compositions explore a wide range of instrumental and ensemble techniques for chamber music that is rarefied indeed. It is difficult, but essential to let each one come and go in a surprisingly vast journey of tiny, vivid experiences. The concentration to grasp every note must be matched by the will to relinquish each impression to prepare a mental tabula rasa for the next.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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