2

Kim Kashkashian: Kurtag/Ligeti: Music for Viola

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
There are more jokes about the viola, perhaps, than any other member of the violin family, but there are also exquisitely written pieces of music that in the hands of virtuosos come alive with vivid emotion and erudite articulation.

Boston-based Kim Kashkashian is one of the premier violists in the world and has recorded many fine, edgy and stimulating albums. With Kurtág/Ligeti: Music for Viola, she tackles two of the more challenging composers of the last half of the 20th century: Hungarians György Ligeti and György Kurtág. The two men not only share a first name and a national heritage but also a common inspirational source, as both are intellectual disciples of their great countryman, Béla Bartók.

Kashkashian has dedicated a significant portion of her career in studying Kurtág's uniquely intricate body of work. This is her third Kurtág recording. The nineteen-part "Signs, Games and Messages," started in 1989, runs only half an hour and is considered a work in progress by its creator. Supreme adroitness, with which she is endowed, is not enough, to interpret successfully this evanescent and cryptic composition. This is where Kashkashian's deep sympathy and understanding of the Kurtag's oeuvre comes in. Her sublime approach to the demanding and unconventional harmonic and rhythmic changes make the score a living, evolving being.

She goes from deferentially and softly touching the strings on "Silent Lines to László Dobszay" to the almost dancing notes of the folk-inspired "Perpetuum Mobile." Her lilting sound beautifully illustrates the nostalgic mood on "For Imre Földes At 60." She also delivers, with subtle whimsy, the theatrical "Signs 1" and "Signs 2."

The more conventional, six-movement "Sonata for Solo Viola" shares its ethnic influence and idiosyncratic construct with "Signs, Games and Messages," but differs it in its solid character and musical heft. While Kurtág's work is ethereal, Ligeti's is earthbound.

Kashkashian's bowing is like a human voice, melancholically singing a folkloric melody on "Hora Lunga." She introduces the right amount of dissonance in the spirited "Loop," while coaxing a whole quartet worth of sound out of single instrument on "Fascar." She navigates the fast tempo of a modern tale of anxiety deftly and with grace on "Prestissimo Con Sordino," and expresses a gamut of emotions on the mournful, angry yet quietly reconciliatory "Lamento." She closes the album with muted tones and shimmering colors of the suite's sixth and last movement, "Chaconne chromatique."

An educator at the New England Conservatory of Music and a tireless advocate of the much-maligned viola, Kashkashian has delivered, once more, a resplendent record that not only explores the instrument's range and versatility but also introduces two ambitious yet surprisingly accessible gems.

Track Listing: In Nomine - all'ongherese (Damjanich emlékko); Silent Lines To László Dobszay Letter to Vera Ligeti; For Imre Földes At 60; Chromatically Saucy; A Flower For Dénes Zsigmondy; In memoriam Blum Tamás; In memoriam Aczél György; H.J. - nóta; Vagdalkozós; The Carenza Jig; Kroó György in memoriam; Hommage à John Cage; Doloroso; Perpetuum mobile; Signs I; Signs II;Four Entwined Bodies To The Exhibition By Sári Gerlóczy; Panaszos nóta; Hora lung; Loop; Facsar; Prestissimo con sordino; Lamento; Chaconne chromatique.

Personnel: Kim Kashkashian: viola.

Title: Kurtag/Ligeti: Music for Viola | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Doug Collette
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Telepathy & Bop" CD/LP/Track Review Telepathy & Bop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "Silent Light" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "In All My Holy Mountain" CD/LP/Track Review In All My Holy Mountain
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Rekihndled" CD/LP/Track Review Rekihndled
by Doug Collette
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "Second Stream" CD/LP/Track Review Second Stream
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.