The references here(other reviewers) to minor works, minor as compared to what or who?? The opaque Question,the Big Unknown.
This is all great music,(even though I disliked marginally the Kurtag). All the music here sensitively played and interpreted with imagination. With Peter Eotvos you have one of the most gifted(aggressive) musical visions,technicians, a man of passion as well. All the categories for egocentric analysis is here clarity,relevance,precision, depth; the ensemble balance he brings from the Netherlands Radio Orchestra is astounding. We merely think this level of interpretation is a norm now these performances,with students of Pierre Boulez (as Eotvos) but Eotvos,recall; all the experience he has under-his-belt now with contemporary repertoire.He lends another vision to the Bartok,one I had not heard. He scales down the obvious,the folk gestures are subdued in place of the fascination with the timbre of the work, the modernity of the score is affirmed. The Viola is unencumbered throughout,and I suspect the incompletedness of the work gave it more clarity,and more modern interest,so it is sketchlike,perhpas unfinsished ideas not allowed to develop; let's not be naive, Bartok had good days and bad, and he was losing creative focus in his latter concerti, like the "Third Piano Concerto" is a waste of time.Now living in poverty outside New York City in an old wooden shak,he was demorilized.
I suspect all serious Violists marvel at the fact that they have this work, It is a high point in the literature.In Searly's completion,you barely suspect any dramatic differences,or how the work should have been, could have been, Bartok's aesthetic is fairly predictable, he had his creative "comfort zones" that he frequently visited. We all know the aesthetic strategies at work ad infinitum, ad nauseaum at times.
The star Violist here Kim Kashkashian equals Eotvos in vision and clarity. She never allows the obvious gestures of the score to take hold of the discourse of the music, and her vision remains firm well into the piece.She plays on the darker side, the Violoncello side of the viola timbre, something I prefer, you may not. This richness is captivating,it has a longevity; you can listen for hours to this tone.
The Eotvos "Replica" is a fairly interesting piece. We really cannot get hold of his creativity;if you have followed his career, Eotvos many times looses focus.Perhaps the life of writing strictly under commission sets this "factory" quality to works,"works on demand", and "ordered" music for occasions. He was quite devoted to the popular strains in the avant-garde,with electronics as his fascinating and powerful "Chinese Opera" and "Intervalles. . ". But his Hungarian,pre-IRCAM experiences in jazz and writings countless filmscores reveals his DNA in music should we say. Eotvos is direct,sometimes uninterestingly so; he has an affinity and a nurturing quality to communicate by any means necessary, and his music is best when direct as here, the overwhelming warm lyricism,in "Replica"(materials from his successful opera :Three Sisters: you can warm your hands to it, like by a roaring log cabin fire.There are modern timbres here, the high pencil-thin harmonics reminds one of electronic timbres,cold abstracted, frozen. The orchestral moments simply embellish, and punctuate the viola, adding no real materials of their own, more like mists, setting the contexts, for the Viola to proclaim its anxiety ridden questions. There are darknesses here,perhaps the rustic life,the basics, the peasnat ways and lifeworlds informs all of this music.
Less so the Kurtag, this is not too interesting Kurtag. His orchestrations are hit-or-miss. He has better vision for smaller situations and musical structures, as his string quartet music,"The 12 Microludes" or his vocal music, and chamber settings with mixed instruments.
He lets his imagination find new contexts, and places few would go.Like his pieces using single and mixed solo-like gestures, and voice. Here in "Movement", the Viola struggles unconvincingly; to me anyway. You may find the affair fascinating.But Kurtag likes the soloists the role to comment, and with gestiral digressions from the solo materials,the solo voice.There is also an uninteresting neo-romantic strain here, and you need to know your materials when you venture into utilization of these well-trodden accessible lifeworlds. Penderecki,Dusapin and Rihm know this route, this well-known trajectory of the common, and knows its dangers. Kurtag writes as if the avant-garde never happened,rather than being informed by it; cloistered in the woods,looking at those "comfort zones" of times gone, never to return. Leave the 19th century alone, it has produced what we all have lived by,no need to return. So the musical structures can become off-balanced forsaking the overall drama of the work. He then thinks he needs to refill-re-populate these dramatic sections with large loud moments somewhat arbitrary in placement; to encompass or overwhelm the poor solo Viola. The Viola yes is reduced to single plaintive tremoli, as if its voice is reduced, now dilute, shell-shocked from violence. The length of Eleven minutes Fifty-three Seconds seem much longer than this. some editing should have been put eraser to music, as Stravinsky said, music is really written "aven le gum". The orchestration is then really not all that interesting, this from a composer who is known for his trimbral sensitivity. The timbres here seem one-dimensional large. But there is heartfelt play in the Viola, it trys to re-assert itself against the seeming "tyranny" of the orchestra. Kurtag is moving when he evokes the intimate, the introspective elements, the deeply subjective, and here this comes in the final moments of the work. Perhaps the context is well worth the time expended.