Assignment 2

Part 1: Preperation

The following paragraphs can also be found in my Listening Log.

Musica Ricercata/Six bagatelles

  • Composer: György Ligeti
  • Year of composition: 1951- 1953
  • Instruments: Piano
  • Performed by: Pierre-Laurent Aimard
  • Listened to: 28.01.2021

From the 11 parts of Musica ricercata Ligeti rearranged 6 for a woodwind – quintet (Listening Log entry above: 6 bagatelles for windquintet).

Allegro con spirito: The flute and clarinet of the woodwind ensemble cover the bright sound of the upper range from the piano. In addition the bass notes at the beginning of each bar played by the clarinet, horn and bassoon, the piece sounds interestingly much less serious than the piano version. The quaver – third movement from the piano also seems to sound more clumsy than the same bars played by two different instruments.

woodwind – ensemble

Rubato Lamentoso: The piano part already introduces a slowly moving, virtuously sounding melody, played in octaves, sometimes interrupted by jazzy sounding chords. This slow theme is developed over the progress of the piece and seems to be extending the register of the piano.

The nasal sound of the oboe gives it an eastern sounding character, which also fits well to the used scale an octave movement. For the first few bars Ligeti also added a note; a perfect 5th to the C#, played by the horn. This causes a slightly heavier colour of sound.

Allegro Grazioso: For me this was one of the most interesting parts of the piece to compare. The left hand of the piano version is meant to be playing a continuous rapid movement without any accents and independent movement from the rhythm of the right hand.

As it is written for more instruments, rhythmical independence becomes, of course, much more difficult. In order to copy the left hand of the piano, Ligeti chose a simple quaver – note rhythm which alternates between the clarinet and the bassoon. The bright sound of the flute captures the soothing sounding melody of the piano version really well. Within several other parts, the melody is also played by the horn, which automatically turns the light sounding character into a more ensured sounding atmosphere.

Presto ruvido: This cheery sounding tune seems to constantly have a pedal note alongside it, as there is always one note within each bar which is played alongside the melody. (an “E” in the example below).Apart from a view exceptions the same rhythmic pattern is kept throughout all the bars. In some parts a melody, fitting to the harmonics but rhythmically independent can be heard.

For the alterations of dynamics Ligeti alternated the amount of instruments used for the woodwind quintet. Otherwise he made use of staccato notes for each instrument and balanced the voices in an appropriate way, thus no voice, apart from the melodic parts would stand out more than others.

I overall noticed, that, even though he always used the same notes for the woodwind ensemble, Ligeti sometimes changed some octaves. This enabled all the instruments to show their technical abilities and also underlined, depending on the used instruments and octaves, the character of each piece effectively well.

Adagio Maestoso: Even though this piece mostly consists of dissonant harmonics, a rhythmical structure and a strong, forceful melody can easily be distinguished. In order to make it more audible over the other instruments, Ligeti used the horn to play the mentioned melody. Due to its strong, deep voice the music suddenly appears much more confident.

Vivace Cappricoso

This piece has a more quirky sounding character at the beginning but becomes more and more serious towards the end. Within the piano version especially the low played quaver thirds seem to not be able to fulfill their potential, as the produced sounds are too low and to close together. As he wrote the Musica ricercata before the six bagatelles, this may even have been on purpose.

The horn and the bassoon take over the role from the low thirds, whilst the flute, oboe and clarinet play the melody in octaves. Even though those three instruments play at the same time, the airy sound of the flute can still be distinguished from the other sounds, which seems to be lifting up the dark spirit of the piece. The piano version on the other hand, stays to the dark, heavy sound by using sf notes which creates a hard metallic sound in almost every register.

Part 2: Application

In order to get more potential from the previous exercise, I listened to the pieces above once more after finishing the two pieces below. In comparison to Ligeti’s changes, I noticed, that I only applied a minimum of the voices and technical possibilities needed, in order to copy the piece. Thus, I tried to extend these in order to get more potential from the piece’s original character.

Similar to Ligeti’s rearrangement, I for example, tried to create a crescendo by using more than one instrument at once (for example in bars 28 – 32 in Csónakázáz). Furthermore, I put the voice of the flute an octave higher at some parts, as it sounds less airy and thus has a stronger voice. The second piece was slightly more challenging, here I tried to use not too many instruments at the same time to keep the light spirit. I furthermore alternated the horn voice with the bassoon’s in order to create a more volatile sounding character.