Arranging Kurtág – An Interview with Olivier Cuendet
The renowned Swiss composer-conductor Olivier Cuendet has been working with György Kurtág for more than twenty years. One of the fruits of this cooperation, an ensemble version of …concertante…, was premiered on January 16, 2020, in Amsterdam with Asko | Schönberg Ensemble and was repeated in Washington D. C. two weeks later. Plans for a recording of Cuendet’s arrangement of Zwiegespräch for synthesizer and orchestra, and a premiere of a percussion version are also on the schedule.
How did you get acquainted with Kurtág’s music? What were its characteristics that most affected you?
Some 25 years ago I scheduled Grabstein für Stephan with the Kammerorchester Basel and, due to a common friend, I could work with Kurtág for the first time, as he assisted to some rehearsals and one concert. We understood each other very well from the first moment on, and he liked my way of performing Haydn! His deep roots in classical music and his natural and unique way to combine this heritage with atonality, together with his most innovative technique of composing are the most fascinating sides of Kurtág’s music for me. Another point is the extreme expressivity and organicity of each phrase and each piece he composes: there is no single note that doesn’t speak or tell something in his whole oeuvre!