LIGETI György, Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet
Allegro con spirito
Cantabile, molto legato
Adagio. Mesto – Allegro maestoso (Béla Bartók in Memoriam)
Among musicians, at least, György Ligeti is probably the second most famous native of Transylvania (after Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula). During the war, most of Ligeti’s immediate family perished in Nazi concentration camps, but he was able study at the Budapest Conservatoire, where his teachers included Zoltán Kodály. In 1951–3 Ligeti wrote a set of piano pieces called Musica ricercata from which he selected six to arrange for woodwind quintet. The influence of Bartók, especially of pieces like Mikrokosmos, is apparent throughout – and the fifth movement is explicitly written as a tribute to the composer whose music most inspired the young Ligeti when he growing up in a repressive regime. The other composer whose music comes strongly to mind in the fourth and sixth of the Bagatelles is Stravinsky. Ligeti’s style was to change rapidly within a few years, after he moved to the more liberal cultural climate of Vienna. But the Bagatelles give an enjoyable indication of how skilful a composer he was at the start of his career.
Nigel Simeone © 2014