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  • Remy Franck, pizzicato

"There are no limits to the listener’s imagination"

"György Ligeti composed three volumes of Etudes for piano, the first in 1985, the second between 1988 and 1994, the third between 1995 and 2011. If one summarizes what musicology has said about these Etudes, they are ‘poly’: polyphonic, polyrhythmic, polytemporal and polyethnic, because after all the composer uses material from the most diverse European and non-European musical cultures. György Ligeti has also said that with this opus he intended to compose « …extremely virtuosic piano studies. (…) The music is neither avant-garde nor traditional, neither tonal nor atonal…. They are (…) studies in the pianistic sense and from the point of view of their composition. They start from a very simple idea and lead from simplicity to great complexity: they behave like growing organisms. » In the interpretations of Cathy Krier, this diversity becomes just as clear as the granularity of the rhythms, to which Ligeti referred several times. But the pianist is not only interested in the technical side of the music, she tries to give the etudes expressiveness, to make them as attractive as possible, indeed she turns them into immediately appealing, extremely vital music, full of playfulness, full of contrasts, miniatures from slick to disheveled, via berserk, humorous, motoric, nostalgic, giddy…. There are no limits to the listener’s imagination, and one does not necessarily have to cling to the composer’s titles, although these are a helpful guideline and were not chosen by Ligeti by chance. My late colleague Guy Wagner once told me how Ligeti asked him during an interview to speak Luxembourgish with him. The composer actually comes from Transylvania, where a language is spoken which is very close to Luxembourgish – because 800 years ago many people emigrated there from the Moselle region (today’s Luxembourg, Lorraine, Rhineland-Palatinate). And Ligeti had assured Wagner after the conversation that he understood 70% of what the Luxembourger had said. And just as Ligeti understood Luxembourgish, so does the Luxembourger Cathy Krier understand Ligeti’s tonal language, even if it has nothing to do with Transylvania."


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