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ligeti reviewed

1st March 2004 permanent link

After I wrote the previous piece I thought I’d have a quick google to see if anybody had expressed any interesting opinions online about Ligeti’s string quartets. Found lots of sites selling the CD but nothing that looked like any kind of serious review. (This is a big and increasing problem with the useulness of google’s search results. More on that in another posting one day). Then remembered that obscure classical music is one area where the customer reviews on amazon are often well-informed and interesting. Amazon didn’t let me down.

The first reviewer, who appears to know what he’s talking about, likes both the quartets but also says they are very different. Says the first one is a very early work heavily influenced by Bartok. (Ligeti is Hungarian, apparently. I thought he was Polish.) Which I actually noticed as I was listening to it thinking “this sounds like inferior Bartok”. Apparently it’s in a sense a protest, because Bartok’s music was banned by the communist regime in Hungary in the 1950s. Fair enough – that doesn’t necessarily make it good music.

I have this strange suggestibility about music reviews that I don’t generally about other things. I’ll read something like this and think “I thought I didn’t like this, but wait. This guy (about whose musical tastes I know absolutely nothing) does and he sounds pretty convincing. Maybe I should?”. Instead of correctly thinking “ok, this guy likes it and I don’t. Fair enough”. I think this time I’ll stick to not liking Number 1, but I might give Number 2 a chance before I condemn the CD to ebay oblivion.

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