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György Ligeti - Melodien (1/2)

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Published on May 27, 2010

Melodien, for orchestra (1971)

Schönberg Ensemble
Reinbert de Leeuw

To call a piece of music "Melodies" in the context of the experimental milieu in which Ligeti operated in the 1960s and early 1970s was rather an audacious move. Scored for orchestra, Melodien was written in 1971, and first performed in Nuremberg on December 10 of that year.

In the preface of the score, Ligeti refers to the three "strata" of the piece: the foreground which features the melodies of the title, the middle layer made up of secondary figures (some of them ostinato-like), and a background consisting of long, sustained tones. Despite its title, the actual music shares many traits with other of Ligeti's works of the time. Dense tone clusters are heard at some points, as are the upward scale-like patterns that are present in so many contemporaneous works of the composer (for example, the solo harpsichord piece Continuum of 1968). Those scales work their way farther and farther up as they interact with the middle and background layers, which become more or less prominent as the piece progresses. [allmusic.com]

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