György Ligeti: Lux Aeterna
György Ligeti (composer)
A Cappella Choral Works (Sony Classical 62305)
György Ligeti (composer),
and the London Sinfonietta Voices, conducted by Terry Edwards.
Composed by György Ligeti.
Recorded: Gütersloh, Gemany, April 21-26, 1994
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Minimalism was a new fragrance in the air when Ligeti composed this densely compacted work. In 1966, however, the Romanian-born Hungarian émigré was unfamiliar with the work of Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Yet you can tell that Ligeti was a kindred spirit, another visionary looking for an escape hatch from the maximalist spiral of Western musical thinking. The harmonic movement in this work for voices moves at about the same pace as a sunset. Each individual modification in the sound tapestry is so delicate that one can barely perceive it at the time, only looking back later and seeing how the whole horizon has changed color and dimension. Ligeti embraces a big "M" word to describe his procedure. No, not Minimalism, but rather "Micropolyphony," which he defines a "polyphonic texture so thickly woven that the individual voices become indistinguishable, and only the resulting harmonies, blending seamlessly, one into another, can be clearly perceived." This music is timeless in the deepest sense of the word, looking back to the past in its references to the Latin requiem, yet so futuristic that Stanley Kubrick included this unconventional piece in the score to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Decades later, the composition still sounds fresh and impenetrable.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia