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György Kurtág
Signs, Games and Messages

Kurt Widmer baritone
Orlando Trio
Hiromi Kikuchi violin
Ken Hakii viola
Stefan Metz cello
Mircea Ardeleanu percussion
Heinrich Huber trombone
David LeClair tuba
Hölderlin-Gesänge for baritone op. 35a

Signs, Games and Messages for strings

...pas à pas - nulle part ...
Poèmes de Samuel Beckett et Maximes de Sébastien Chamfort for baritone solo, string trio and percussion, op. 36

Recorded February / March 2002
ECM New Series 1730
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The first new album by Kurtág in six years is a major event. Kurtág was always a master of the miniature – no tone or texture, no grain of sound is wasted – but now his work is more concentrated than ever. The work on “Signs, Games and Messages” represents a pinnacle of Kurtág’s art of achieving the ultimate in expression by the most minimal of means. The album is comprised of settings of Hölderlin (and Paul Celan) in the “Hölderlin-Gesänge”, sung by Kurt Widmer, and of Beckett (and Sébastien Chamfort) in “ ... pas à pas – nulle part ...”, sung by Widmer with string trio and percussion. The two song cycles are linked by the work-in-progress that gives the album its title: “Signs, Games and Messages” for strings. The three cycles recorded here – and to which the distinguished interpreters gave years of intense collaboration – comprise between them a total of 59 tracks, only one of which goes beyond three minutes in duration. More than any composer before him, Kurtág has mastered the art of the expressive musical aphorism – or, as he self-deprecatingly puts it, “making music out of almost nothing.” But as England’s The Guardian said, “A whole world of expression and suggestion can be packed into these exquisite, crystalline forms.”

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