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Work of the Week – György Ligeti: Kammerkonzert

Through the myriad compositional styles György Ligeti explored between the 1940s and the 2000s, the composer’s strict focus on form and instrumentation always remained at the forefront of his work. Among the best examples of this is undoubtedly his Kammerkonzert (Chamber Concerto) from the middle period of his output. Exactly 50 years ago, on 5 April 1970, Friedrich Cerha and his ensemble ‘die reihe’ premiered the first two movements of this work in Baltimore. The third movement followed shortly after, premiering that May in Vienna, and the concerto’s final movement was first performed the following October in Berlin. 

The scoring of Kammerkonzert for thirteen players sits at the midpoint between chamber music and a more symphonic texture. The work is highly varied, encompassing passages of extreme density and contrasting sections where individual instruments emerge from the ensemble with exposed melodic lines reminiscent of Schoenberg and Berg’s expressive twelve-note writing, or of virtuosic cadenzas.

György Ligeti – Kammerkonzert: from failure to standard repertoire

The four-movement work is a concerto in the sense that all 13 players are equal and have virtuoso solo tasks. Rather than frequent changes between soli and tutti, there is constant concerto-like cooperation. The parts always flow simultaneously but use different rhythmic configurations and tempi. […] The world premiere of the completed Chamber Concerto in 1970 was a complete failure. Critics wrote that this work massively fell behind my second string quartet, its predecessor. However, as time went by, more and more ensembles performed it multiple times. Nowadays, it is a standard repertoire work because its instrumentation is very fitting for groups like the Asko ensemble. All these things are impossible to anticipate for a composer. – György Ligeti

In advance of Ligetis centenary on 28 May 2023, we invite you to explore his music further. We’ve created an extensive playlist with detailed insights exploring Ligeti’s work follow the link below to find out more.


Work of the Week – Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus

On 21 October, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) will stage their first complete operetta at the Lee Foundation Theatre in celebration of their 80th anniversary. The operetta is Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, which will be directed by David Edwards and conducted by Lim Yau, with a cast and orchestra made up of students, teachers and alumni of NAFA. The operetta will be sung in German, with spoken dialogue in English and Mandarin. Continue reading “Work of the Week – Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus”


Work of the Week – Thomas Larcher: Symphony No. 2

On 28 August, Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Kenotaph’ will receive its UK premiere at the BBC Proms in London, played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Bychkov, to whom the symphony is dedicated, conducted the world premiere with the Vienna Philharmonic earlier this year on 3 June in Vienna.

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Work of the Week – Peter Eötvös: Halleluja – Oratorium balbulum

On 30 July, Peter Eötvös’ Halleluja – Oratorium balbulum will receive its world premiere at the Salzburg Festival as part of the ‘Ouverture Spirtiuelle’ series, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and Hungarian Radio Choir under Daniel Harding.

Continue reading “Work of the Week – Peter Eötvös: Halleluja – Oratorium balbulum”