György Ligeti: Volumina – organ works. (Included: Musica Ricercata, 2 Etüdes, Improvisations Sprachsignale and Volumina). Wergo 67572. Dominik Susteck, organ. German Record Critics’ Award 3/2013.
Although György Ligeti composed only three works for the organ – “Volumina”, “Harmonies“, and “Coulée” – these pieces mark significant stages in the course of his compositional development; more importantly, they revolutionized the world of organ music and provided the initial spark for an entire wave of New Music for the organ.
“Volumina” completely dispenses with the parameters normally used to structure time in a musical work, such as melody, rhythm, and harmony. The only active structural parameter in this music is the tone colour. The music is perceived more in a spatial than a temporal sense, with the title “Volumina” referring to differently dimensioned “stationary” sound spaces.
The two études “Harmonies“ and “Coulée” take up and vary the idea of a stationary sound space: „Harmonies“ unfolds as an unbroken chain of ten-note chords; only one note is changed from one chord to the next. The tone colour, however, changes more often, with almost imperceptible continuous transitions. “Coulée” is a chain of extremely fast quavers which describe a slow harmonic progression, giving it a kind of trembling and buzzing motion: “So that the individual notes can no longer be distinguished: the motion almost melts into a continuum.” (Ligeti)
In the eleven-movement piano cycle “Musica ricercata” Ligeti explores the possibilities of using the twelve chromatic semitones for composition: Starting with the repetition and octave transposition of a single note, each of the following pieces works with a tonal vocabulary expanded by one note each, with the intervallic relationships changing from piece to piece. One of the movements was arranged for the organ by Ligeti himself; the others have been arranged by the organist Dominik Susteck.
Susteck, who performed and recorded these works on the organ of Kunst-Station Sankt Peter in Cologne, also presents on this CD an original composition: his organ improvisations “Sprachsignale” which are inspired by Ligeti’s piece “Artikulation”.