Posthumous publications by Jeney
In 2023, Hungarian music life will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the birth of Zoltán Jeney (1943–2019). Prior to the anniversary, UMP Editio Musica Budapest has now published the scores of three significant works for orchestra and chamber ensemble, with the support of the National Cultural Fund.
Self-Quotations - for chamber ensemble (1991) Listen!
The title of the chamber piece Self-Quotations already carries the danger of sentimental retrospect. Jeney evidently rejects this possibility: he summarizes the encountering with his own career so far not in a large-format composition intended to be representative, but in a chamber work written for five instruments. Self-control and the tension that comes with it is also manifested in the fact how he highlights the self-quotations from their original environment, completely transforms them, and, as if they were just found objects, is preoccupied with what he can do with them. Distancing oneself from erupting emotions is associated with playfulness in the Self-Quotations. The playfulness in Jeney’s work can be grasped in a variety of compositional processes, all of which call attention to the fact that in this retrospective work the composer was primarily concerned with how to construct a composition from as few and simple musical elements as possible. (Anna Dalos)
Pavane - for orchestra (2007) Listen!
In 1979, Zoltán Jeney generated eight different fractal sequences using a computer, and then converted these sequences of numbers into melodies of 128 sounds. (One of these was to become a ground melody of his masterpiece, Funeral Rite.) In an interview, Jeney confessed that he had dreamed on which two further melodic lines he would build Pavane. In the opening movement, the melody starts from the same pitch in each orchestral part, giving the impression of a slowly waving heterophony of glowing colors. The fast middle movement builds a five-part ricercare from the same melody, and in the third movement the melody is played sliding relative to each other, while certain sounds of the melody, distinguished by forte dynamics, become highlighted at unexpected places, all of which makes the musical process dynamic and tense. The listener may even feel the disciplined structure of the composition, due to its basic melody, but all this does not reduce the restlessness of the hearing experience. (Zoltán Farkas)
Agony - 8 songs on poems by György Petri for soprano and chamber ensemble (2010–2013)
Clarinet, cimbalom, violin, viola, and bass - the songs on poems by György Petri, who was familiar with the world of small pubs, are accompanied by a gypsy band. The musical material is not lacking hints to folk music elements, yet it is more an orchestrated monotony, a restrained heterophony, anticipation and lengthening of melodic sounds that build up the accompaniment. Jeney’s music is much more illustrative and boldly characteristic than in his earlier songs, which brought into the armor of a particularly disciplined construction by the musical transcoding of the lyrics. This directness doesn’t harm them: The songs are probably more reserved than Petri’s poems, but they highlight the bittersweet humor of the poems. (Zoltán Farkas)
Photo: Andrea Felvégi