Wow!!, with major hitters as Ullen, Banfield, and Aimard have mesmorized everyone, the afficianados of the post-modern, and poor Idil is in bad company here with all the self-righteous knowers of the knowledgable materials of the modern piano; of correct tempi, of pace,density, fortitude,romantic abandonment and gesture even.
The fact is that any great piece of music or sets of them as the ubiquitous "etudes" have that inner necessity to be interpreted,not simply mindlessly played.You cannot argue with Ullen's or Aimard's playing, it is brilliant in all respects. But then why should anyone then play them, is there room for other readings? There should be. TThe genre "Etude" has had a rich life in post-modernity, I know of at least 50, Fifty composers who have modern etudes, modeled (unofficially) after GYorgy there must be hundreds of etudes written since Cage "Etudes Australes" kicked off the modern genre arguably). Ligeti is indebted to Nancarrow,(YouTube has a wonderful documentary on Ligeti) who began his studies and "treatise" of rhythm/texture but little else in the Forties, musical automata, and the player piano.Nancarrow was ignored most of his life until Ligeti, who has always himself found fascination with musical automata, the 100 metronomes cute experiment attests to the initial stages of this creative trajectory. So indebtedness goes all the way around, and no one can claim some influence someplace. These"etudes"all three Books are master-works only because Ligeti finds his own voice within the genre, and does so wonderfully as well as creating an exciting set, worth learning by any pianist interested in the modern legacy, whatever that remains.These "etudes" also point to the ideology of modernity its content has been lowerd, democraticized toward relatively easier listening experiences, although there are many who cannot listen at all to this nicely rounded sets.
But these etudes are not simply fodder to play the hell out of to run through the mill as Ullen. The technique in Ullen is blazing,he brings out the "industrial"dimensions of modern timbre and Aimard as well, bangs the Hell out of them. Biret on the other hand brings a lyricism, and reflection not shown at times by the other two piano masters, Biret is slower but you remind me of Gunter Schuller who claimed he was the only one(The only one) who knew correct tempi and how musical literature is suppose to go, and went and wasted his time (what else does he have to do, he is an uninspired composer, dull, bored with himself)giving entire laundry lists of tempi.
Biret is a great sensitive musician and finds her voice here.The fact that she plays Ligeti slower is unimportant and insignificant. These "etudes" brings out the worse in a player however should technique be the focus and the trajectory for expression. I think these works hover in between. It is music,and it should suggest something beyond sheer pummeling the piano,these etudes do skate around this, is it musical automata?, No music,Ligeti's late music here wanted to suggest the image, and does so, so poetically in the later ones as the one to " to Irina" "White on White",(Book 3) and the infinite column,(Ullen is incredible almost like a blur, one colour, like a minimalism of timbre, the last one in Book 2; and not the focus to form arguments, and their more sportslike quality, who plays them the fastest without making a mistake, Wow!!,Adorno in the Fifties said that the avant-garde would be become more "sports-like, with "marathons"(pianist play all the sets, all the "etudes", (Arditti play all the Bartok and Carter on successive nights) I'm impressed to a degree.So who plays the fastest? is not the point.
Buy the Biret simply because she brings something that the others do not., it is good playing Unless you are sports people.