Album reviews

Lukas Ligeti – ‘That Which Has Remained…That Which Will Emerge…’

Lukas Ligeti – That Which Has Remained…That Which Will Emerge…

(col legno music. Album review by Fiona Mactaggart)

That Which Has Remained…That Which Will Emerge… is the latest album from Austrian-American composer, improvisor and percussionist Lukas Ligeti. Son of the late Gyorgy Ligeti, Lukas’ similarly unflinching search at the fringes of musical invention have to date led him through unusually diverse musical genres and to working with an array of innovative composer-musicians such as Marilyn Crispell and John Zorn.

In typically thoughtful fashion – Ligeti has (Hungarian) Jewish ancestry – in 2015 as artist-in-residence at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews he created this work. This museum is in the area where between 1940 and 1943 the Warsaw Ghetto was situated. The album “That Which Has Remained… That Which Will Emerge…” is the studio recorded version of an interactive event performed at this museum, and although the studio version lacks the interacting audience and sonorous effects of the museum hall space, the quality of a profoundly meaningful group experience nevertheless carries through into the album.

There are six tracks which flow naturally from album beginning to end. As is usual for a Lukas Ligeti album, complexity of ideas and rhythms are prominent. The tracks are based around the memories and sometimes the songs of individual Warsovians of widely differing ages whom Ligeti recorded in interviews, as well as an excerpt from Jerzy Jurandot’s ‘City of the Damned – Two Years in the Warsaw Ghetto’. Ligeti takes multiple fragments of these spoken words; his score then instructs a soprano and four other musicians what they might expect and whether they should improvise or imitate elements of the recorded words. Ligeti himself plays his Don Buchla-invented electronic marimba lumina.

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This detailed preparation combined with free improvisation results in an atmospheric, sweven-like layering of a multitude of voices – a jostle of past, present and future generations, all seemingly here with us now in the present – intertwined with some familiar melodies and other musician-generated sounds. The effect is remarkably rich and very moving.

Having followed Ligeti’s output for some years, until now, I have thought of his music as always having considerable conceptual and technical interest. This album, however, makes one not only think but also feel deeply – as the most successful art should do, and does.

ENSEMBLE: Barbara Kinga Majewska – soprano, Pawel Szamburski – clarinet, Patryk Zakrocki – violin, viola, mbira

Mikolaj Palosz – cello, Wojtek Kurek – drums, synthesizer

Lukas Ligeti – electronics- marimba lumina

LINK: That Which Has Remained…That Which Will Emerge… on col legno Records

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