Saturday, March 30th: Kafka Fragments at Tenri

On Saturday at 8 PM, Kafka-Fragmente by  György Kurtág will be performed at Tenri Cultural Institute (43A West 13th Street,New York NY), by soprano Susan Narucki and violinist Curtis Macomber (tickets). Earlier this week, they performed it at another venue also abundantly supportive of contemporary classical music, Buffalo University.


Kafka-Fragmente is based on aphoristic texts by Franz Kafka from his diaries and correspondence. As is his practice, Kurtág brought the composition together gradually, collecting fragments over time and completing the piece in 1985. At seventy minutes in duration, until his opera Fin de Partie (2018), it was the composer’s longest piece. Not only are the forty movements based on brief texts, they are also miniature in design. The text-setting is exquisitely detailed, and the musical language is frequently dissonant and angular, drawing both from postwar modernism and Eastern European folk traditions of declamation and string performance.

Narucki and Macomber are both new music specialists. I have remembered a number of their performances with great pleasure, especially Narucki’s creation of the role of Mama in Elliott Carter’s opera What Next? and Macomber’s authoritative rendition of Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronism No. 9 for violin and tape.

To get acquainted with this distinctive music, listen below to excerpts from the soprano’s Avie CD The Edge of Silence, consisting entirely of vocal chamber works by Kurtág. It received a Grammy nomination in 2019, and demonstrates her command of the composer’s individual and demanding work.



Here is Macomber’s recording of the Davidovsky.