Related Links

Recommended Links

Give the Composers Timeline Poster

Site News

What's New for
Winter 2018/2019?

Site Search

Follow us on
Facebook    Twitter


In association with
Amazon UKAmazon GermanyAmazon CanadaAmazon FranceAmazon Japan

CD Universe



Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale

CD Review

György Ligeti

Le Grand Macabre (1997 version)

  • Willard White (Nekrotzar)
  • Derek Lee Ragin (Prince Go-Go)
  • Graham Clark (Piet the Pot)
  • Jard van Nes (Mescalina)
  • Frode Olsen (Astradamors)
  • Sibylle Ehlert (Venus, Gepopo)
  • Laura Claycomb (Amanda)
  • Charlotte Hellekant (Amando)
  • Steven Cole (White Minister)
  • Richard Suart (Black Minister); others
London Sinfonietta Voices
Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen
Sony Classical S2K62312 DDD 2CDs 43:12, 59:15
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

With this work avant-guarde composer György Ligeti presents "opera." (He put quotes around the word himself.) Ornery to the core, Le Grand Macabre uses musical instruments to simulate non-musical effects. Before its scenes there are two car horn Préludes and a doorbell Prélude. These frisky and brief introductions are amusing in the same way as Marcel Duchamps' famous found urinal sculpture. In fact, the entire plot is retro-Dada: Piet the Pot, a forever tipsy, professional wine-taster, is abducted by Nekrotzar, the Great Macabre, a personification of death. We meet court astrologers who engage in S & M and a confused Prince Go-Go, who reigns in Breughelland, a place where the two political parties have no differences at all. (Sound familiar?) This anti-music is cacophonous and occasionally clever, such as a concluding Passacaglia done in mock classical style. Squawking sprechtstimme inflates the non-musical segments with volume lacking substance. Inevitably, the work's constant anarchic energy wears thin. There is just too much grunting, squealing, and fall-flat satire. Thirty five years ago I anticipated hearing Le Grand Macabre for the first and only time and wrote: "Always in the melting hour/There are eons of ten minutes to endure."

Copyright © 2001, Peter Bates