String Quartet #1 “Métamorphoses Nocturnes” (1953-54)
I. Allegro Grazioso
II. Vivace, Capriccioso
III. Adagio, Mesto
V. Andante Tranquillo
VI. Tempo Di Valse, Moderata, Con Eleganza, Con Poco Capriccioso
VII. Allegretto, Un Poco Giovale
Performed by the Arditti String Quartet
Available for very cheap on Ligeti Edition 1: String Quartets and Duets
(Note the Nancarrow quartet is in m4a format, download the files first before playing them)
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Between three different posts I’ve posted more music by Ligeti than any other composer. Since this particular post is in the middle of a series where I am post even more of a medium that I’ve posted the most of it only seems natural to me to post even more of the composer I’ve posted the most music from.
When people discuss Ligeti usually they focus in on his music written during or after the sixties. Little attention is often paid to the music written before then in what is often called his “early period.” In my opinion Ligeti’s first string quartet – which was written for his drawer since its contemporary approaches were banned by the Communist Hungary government of the time – is the one real masterpiece from this period in his compositional development. The style strongly recalls the Bela Bartok’s later quartets, particularly the third and fourth particularly in its rhythmic and visceral explorations focus on the difference between major and minor seconds. However, this quartet looks much farther than Bartok’s ever did and also show the first real signs of the micropolyphonic and rhythmic esthetic that came to mark Ligeti’s finest works.
It’s hard to dismiss the influence Conlon Nancarrow played on the later works of Ligeti. I could easily compare a few Ligeti pieces to the Nancarrow player piano studies that preceded them to make this point but that’s a topic for another post.