Taking Sides: Penderecki or Ligeti?

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Pick from the textural titans. It's a tricky one for me. Penderecki's 50s/60s stuff connects a lot more for me than Ligeti's work from the same period: the early string quartets, Threnody, Fluorescences, the sonata for violin and piano, these are all incredible and affect me more than Ligeti's textural orchestral or organ works, which never seem quite finished and satisfying.

I think that Ligeti's Violin Concerto from the 90s, however, is the most full, satisfying, powerful piece by either. The range and scope of the piece, the incorporation of the textural elements into a broader dramatic framework, are very impressive. Penderecki's neo-Romantic turn from the 70s onwards does not interest me at all, though it did get a bit better with Polish Requiem and that solo clarinet piece.

I'm torn and still indecisive.

sundar subramanian, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'd have to opt for Ligetti, on the basis that I've heard of him. I love the stuff by him that Kubrick keeps using in his films.

The Dirty Vicar, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Kubrick used Penderecki, too.

Dan Perry, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

You are a hopeful one, aren't you Sundar? Never heard any Ligeti.

Josh, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

There was a great piece once in an APA the Dirty Vicar lured me into, where a mate of his proved by science that Ligeti's Requiem was not only the best record ever made but the only one anyone need ever own. This impressed me hugely - there was even an equation involved - despite me suspecting it was bollocks. I believe Marxism may have been involved at some point too.

Tom, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I've been meaning to ask this for a while, but what's an APA?

Richard Tunnicliffe, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The fact that explaining what an APA is always turns out to be monstrously complicated is probably part of the reason the APA 'movement' never conquered the world. I'm not even sure what the last A stands for.

It's a fanzine written by its readers and read by its writers, was the most concise definition: all members would be expected to contribute a few pages of zine every issue, these would then be photocopied, bound together with all the other members' contributions, and mailed out to all members. The APA in question had some really excellent writers and introduced me to tons of my favourite music, but I still eventually abandoned it for the fickle embrace of Dame Technology.

Tom, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Wow. What a great idea.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Oh, and before Sundar slaps me for derailing his thread, it's Penderecki by default for me. I've only heard (and liked) Threnody and Fluoresences but I can't remember ever consciously listening to any Ligeti at all.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I'll edge toward Ligeti, as everything I've heard from the man has something going for it (though I've barely scratched the surface), whereas Penderecki, as much as I love the late 50s/early 60s material (Threnody, Anaklasis, Emanationen, etc), took a horrid turn down the Romantic route in the 70s (Symphony no.1 being the last gasp of his old style). If I wanted to listen to second-rate Bruckner, I'd, er, buy a second-rate Bruckner record.

I'll take Sundar's word for it that he's redeemed himself with some better recent material, but I can't be bothered seeking out anymore KP (whereas I still fancy hoovering up a bunch more Ligeti). Didn't KP say around the time of the first Symphony (1973-ish) that he'd finished his orchestral experiments and was about to head into the electronic studio? Clearly he didn't at that time, but was there ever any material of this sort from the chap?

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Having just listened this evening to "Trios Liturgies Pour Le Presence Divine", I'd have to say that Messiaen towers over both of them, esp w/ "Turangaila-Symphonie" - piano-birdsong! Unison Girly vox! Ondes Martenot! Orgazmick choir chords at end ov 1st movement ov "Trois Petits Liturgies" = best bit on any record ever, even better than intro to 5th movement of shostakovitch' "babi Yar" symphony Nr13.

Norman Fay, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Norman is my hero. Actually, Messiaen is my hero, and "Trois Liturgies" is a euphoric piece. Thanks for giving me an excuse to tell you how much I love it. :)

dleone, Wednesday, 19 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ah, I love the Messiaen love here. We should have "synaesthesia's effect on music: classic or dud?" The Turangalîla Symphonie is truly one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed.
As for Penderecki and Ligeti, I think perhaps Penderecki shall win by default, as I've heard far more Penderecki than Ligeti. Ligeti's Violin Concerto is quite amazing though. Have to immerse myself in more of his works.

Been listening to Penderecki's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima all week now...

Melissa W, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Messiaen = Prog ov the GodZoR
Ligeti = lame after he found fame (eg by the 80s)
Penderecki = mark-down Lutoslawski = Radiohead for strings

mark s, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Penderecki by default -- ethnic pride, y'all!, but seriously because I've never heard any Ligeti.

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

mark s, I never can understand a word of your shorthand.

Melissa W, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Re: the APA thing, if anyone's interested in seeing a spec copy of it, mail me offlist and I'll send you one.

Dirty Vicar, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

5!|\|K3R 53Z:

Messiaen = Prog ov the GodZoR

MS now bax0r in nfaY's good books after MEAN & CRUEL prog swipe on "rare footage" thread.

Yeah, like sinker give 2 hoots ;)

x0x0

Norman Fay, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

melissa, sorry, i actually hadn't seen you there: my radiohead line = not a ronan-style gibe at you, or indeed at penderecki (in fact sounds kinda like we agree, since you like him and rh, who i by no means hate except TY's voice = a bit much now and then) — but lutoslawski is bettah than both, as in more full-on mournful and spiky

norman fay: my prog remarXoR = biggin up bill bailey not biggin down you: BB = superior to Phil "porky the cokehead" JupiToss in every way, including he luvs prog. OK, obv less than you, yes, but this meant as praise not blame.

G. Michael Koenig = the Gary Numan of Köln WDR discuss

mark s, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

MS SZ:

B(ill)B(ailey) = superior to Phil "porky the cokehead" JupiToss in every way

This = undeniably true. Thanx mark!

x0x0

|\|0|2/|\4|\| |=4'/, Thursday, 20 September 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

eleven years pass...

I thought there was a more active Penderecki thread but maybe I was wrong. Anyway, he is 79 today so happy birthday:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwaEOyOw9tk

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Friday, 23 November 2012 11:57 (seven years ago) link

three months pass...

Penderecki = mark-down Lutoslawski = Radiohead for strings

Super prescient quote from mark s as Jonny Greenwood did an album with him last year.

fun loving and xtremely tolrant (Billy Dods), Sunday, 10 March 2013 11:54 (seven years ago) link

Do you still feel the same way about Ligeti Vln Concerto, Sund4r? (I have to confess I think it's pretty unsatisfying).

I prefer Ligeti to Penderecki, Ligeti's works are diverse in execution, yet singular in intent. And though some of his scores are aleatoric ("Artikulation"), most are implemented (all the famous ones) and I... kind of respect that more?

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 14:58 (seven years ago) link

Also I really can't get behind a composer who names his piece "Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima" sorry

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:00 (seven years ago) link

penderecki seemed to hit his peak early on whereas ligeti's oeuvre has a lot to explore from the earliest to the last pieces

mimosa pudica (clouds), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:02 (seven years ago) link

it's weird to read contemporary music reviews from the early 60s — people thought penderecki was the future of music for a hot second

mimosa pudica (clouds), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:03 (seven years ago) link

Also I really can't get behind a composer who names his piece "Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima" sorry

― * (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Never heard but I've not the faintest bit of confidence it would be any good.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:11 (seven years ago) link

That's NUTS that you haven't heard it it is literally everywhere
It is a good piece, one of the most effective aleatoric pieces I've heard! Worst title tho

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:15 (seven years ago) link

Everywhere?!?! Was it no.1 in the classical charts for 59 weeks that year?

Also hadn't heard Britten's Requiem till recently.

Lutoslawski (from a couple of pieces I've heard...i am terrible on Polish composers which is bad of me) vs Ligeti would be a better fight.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:20 (seven years ago) link

"In film, excerpts from Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima are used in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of The Shining, the 2006 dystopian film Children of Men, as well as David Lynch's Inland Empire."

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:23 (seven years ago) link

Also I'd hazard a guess that it is the most programmed work of any composer mentioned itt (save "4tet for the end of time")

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:24 (seven years ago) link

Also I really can't get behind a composer who names his piece "Threnody to the victims of Hiroshima" sorry

truly the jonathan safran foer of avant garde composer dudes.

(p.s. mark s's prescience may not have been quite as prescient as it looked, iirc jonny greewood has been going on about his penderecki influence forever, e.g. 'climbing up the walls'.)

hot young stalin (Merdeyeux), Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:43 (seven years ago) link

"Literally everywhere" = lol but it is postwar avant-garde canon. Penderecki's use of extended string techniques at that time was really great imo. Julio, hear it stat!

I haven't listened to Ligeti's Violin Concerto in a while tbh. I'll try to do it today.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Sunday, 10 March 2013 16:12 (seven years ago) link

It is actually everywhere and when xyzzzz hears it he'll surely say "oh THAT thing"

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 16:14 (seven years ago) link

Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima is one of the most startlingly beautiful things I have ever heard, but yes, this goes to Ligeti.

But yeah, the Ligeti Violin Concerto, sund4r. It tears my heart out.

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Nilmar Honorato da Silva, Sunday, 10 March 2013 19:01 (seven years ago) link

Ligeti over Penderecki, Lutoslawski over both.

multi instru mentat list (Jon Lewis), Sunday, 10 March 2013 20:35 (seven years ago) link

Ligeti is like ravel, each one of his pieces is a devilishly cunning contraption, each built for a v specific purpose.

multi instru mentat list (Jon Lewis), Sunday, 10 March 2013 20:37 (seven years ago) link

Jon otm.

How amazing is Ligeti's organ music? This piece where the organist puts his arm down on a stop-less swell to overdrive the wind, bend the pitch?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3gVRPmx9cI

HOW AMAZING IS THIS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esDkIW6oEBg

I love Lutoslawski but have barely scratched the surface. I regularly listen to and recommend the String Quartet, Chain 2, Symphony #4. I haven't come round to enjoying the cello concerto. What's next?

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Sunday, 10 March 2013 20:52 (seven years ago) link

Do you still feel the same way about Ligeti Vln Concerto, Sund4r? (I have to confess I think it's pretty unsatisfying).

I just listened to it (Christina Astrand/Danish Natl Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard) and, yep, I think it's all time, just about a perfect piece. I'd be interested in hearing more about what you think. Out of curiosity, do you prefer Gubaidulina's Offertorium? (I ask because I knew a string player who was lukewarm about the Ligeti but mad about the Gubaidulina, which I like but don't rate as highly. I wonder if it's something about the violin writing, if perhaps the Gubaidulina is more idiomatic or enjoyable to play.)

And though some of his scores are aleatoric ("Artikulation"), most are implemented (all the famous ones) and I... kind of respect that more?

As someone who has written my fair share (probably more) of aleatoric music, I think I agree!

Btw, I was probably not being fair enough to Ligeti's 60s works in the OP. I love his wind quintets, btw, which didn't come up itt. (The traditionalist, Bartok-revering side of me might even prefer the Six Bagatelles to the 10 Pieces!) The Etudes for piano (1985-2001) are really great too.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Monday, 11 March 2013 00:33 (seven years ago) link

That was a nice break from 70s rock, btw.

EveningStar (Sund4r), Monday, 11 March 2013 00:45 (seven years ago) link

I will check out that specific recording, thanks Sund4r.

Gubaidulina bugs me sometimes-- inconsistency in her harmonic language-- but I appreciate "Offertorium" in that it honours the concerto form while reframing it in a nice way. That is to say, a juicy part, orchestra assisting the soloist rather than accompanying it.

* (flamboyant goon tie included), Monday, 11 March 2013 02:58 (seven years ago) link

seven years pass...

RIP Penderecki.

Matt DC, Sunday, 29 March 2020 20:06 (six months ago) link

I had no idea he was still alive, so this news was a surprise. listened to the Passion According to St Luke in his memory this AM. What a beautiful piece of music.

justice 4 CCR (Sparkle Motion), Sunday, 29 March 2020 21:18 (six months ago) link

We've been talking about in the rolling 2020 classical thread, if anyone's interested:

Rolling Classical 2020

coco vide (pomenitul), Sunday, 29 March 2020 21:22 (six months ago) link

I'm surprised that so many people are saying that. He was active and in the public eye until the end, collaborating with Jonny Greenwood in 2012, winning a Grammy in 2017.

Sund4r, Sunday, 29 March 2020 21:34 (six months ago) link

You and me both. And yet:

Rolling Obituary Thread: 2020

coco vide (pomenitul), Sunday, 29 March 2020 22:30 (six months ago) link

Don't suppose too many people have been keeping tabs on his career tbf.

Bridge Over Thorley Waters (Tom D.), Sunday, 29 March 2020 22:33 (six months ago) link

Apparently not

Sund4r, Sunday, 29 March 2020 22:39 (six months ago) link

Didn't he conduct Beth Gibbons in Gorecki's 3rd like, last year? TBF I didn't know if he was alive or not until that CD got announced in Feb/March of '19.

BLU SAPHIR, BUT WHY (Tom Violence), Sunday, 29 March 2020 22:40 (six months ago) link

Yep, listening to it now.

Sund4r, Sunday, 29 March 2020 22:48 (six months ago) link


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