Kurtág Festival in Amsterdam

Kurtág Festival in Amsterdam

Between March 8 and 11, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam celebrates the 97-year-old György Kurtág with a four-day festival consisting of eight concerts.

In three concerts, the master's collection of piano pieces Games (Játékok), now numbering more than 300 pieces, is in the focus, performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Tamara Stefanovich and Aimard's students. Aimard, who has more than four decades of relationship with Kurtág, arranged the short piano pieces into thematic groups and presents them mixed with piano music by other composers, important for Kurtág, as Bach, Beethoven and Schubert, presenting highlights of the whole series from the compositions of the 1970s, examining the most elementary musical gestures, to the latest works, written in 2021. Ere Lievonen's organ concert also selects from Games: he presents miniatures that can also be performed on the organ, as well as music by Bartók, Messiaen and Ligeti, and excerpts from the Nine Little Greeting Chorals, written for Kurtág’ 70th birthday by László Vidovszky.

In one of the other instrumental concerts, the Dudok String Quartet will play 12 microludes and pieces  from Signs, Games & Messages for string instruments, alongside Haydn and Bartók. The Asko|Schönberg ensemble, which in 2017 under the leadership of Reinbert de Leeuw released a cross-section of Kurtág's music for chamber ensemble on a three-CD album, will perform three masterpieces written around 1990: ...quasi una fantasia..., Double Concerto for cello and piano, and Grabstein für Stephan, along with transcriptions of Janáček and Webern, arranged for the ensemble by de Leeuw, and conducted by Lin Liao.

Of course, vocal works, so important in Kurtág's output, play a preeminent role in these concerts too: In addition to Kafka Fragments, there figure such chef d’œuvres like Messages of the Late R. V. Troussova with Andrea Brassói-Jőrös, and The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza, so rarely performed on the concert stage, this time interpreted by Tony Arnold and Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

Photo: Andrea Felvégi